Spirit AeroSystems has opened a new defence prototype centre to focus on high-temperature materials for US defence programmes like hypersonic missiles.
The new National Defense Prototype Center (NDPC), a joint project with Wichita State University’s National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR), aims to expand Spirit’s capabilities and production efficiencies in the defence and space market.
“NIAR has been a tremendous partner in the development of the National Defense Prototype Center and enabling Wichita as a centre for defence growth,” said Duane Hawkins, Spirit AeroSystems executive vice president; president, Defense and Space. ”The NDPC provides a secure space for high temperature materials testing, as well as development, prototyping and industrialisation capabilities to support Spirit’s growth strategy targeting $1 billion of defence revenue by the mid-2020s.”
The research centre comes soon after Kansas earned its designation as one of 11 Defense Manufacturing Communities by the Department of Defense (DoD). The Defense Manufacturing Community Support Program will encourage long-term community investments to strengthen national security innovation and expand the capabilities of the defence manufacturing industrial ecosystem.
The NDPC encompasses more than 125,000ft2 of manufacturing and lab space with processing and characterisation capabilities, including high temperature testing, furnaces for fabricating and processing materials, multi-method non-destructive inspection, robotic automated fibre placement technology and a large autoclave. The centre promotes the capacity to sustain broader and maximum throughput capabilities to support a high-priority national defence programme.
“The more knowledge that can be generated and disseminated about high temperature materials, the more these materials can be used, optimised, and designed for specific objectives,” said John Tomblin, Wichita State’s senior vice president for industry and defence programmes and NIAR executive director. “This leads to reliable and safe products that enable the industry to go further, push faster, and break through current design limitations. Not only is this a first for the state of Kansas, but for the nation in terms of testing capacity at these temperatures.”
The research centre is the first of its kind with the ability to attract new aviation, defence, and space programmes with a focus on high-temperature materials, such as hypersonic missiles, that can withstand temperatures of 2,500-5,000°F.
The NDPC offers distinctive capabilities and research technology that will spur the development of new high temperature materials and ultra-competitive composites.