Grumman plays a key role in the development and production of the F-35 weapons system.
In addition to producing the jet's centre fuselage, the company produces its radar, electro-optical, avionics and communications subsystems. It also develops mission systems and mission-planning software; develops and maintains pilot and maintainer training systems courseware; and manages the team's use, support and maintenance of low-observable technologies.
The F-35 is a fifth generation combat aircraft designed to replace a wide range of aging fighter and strike aircraft for the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, as well as allied nations defence forces worldwide. As a supplier to Northrop Grumman, Nordam will produce three of the aircraft’s internal parts made entirely from composite materials.
Meredith Siegfried Madden, Nordam’s CEO said: “Assembly of the centre fuselage begins with the parts that Nordam will manufacture. There was a lot of competition for this contract, but among other factors, our many years of experience in composites and complex bondment and layup, coupled with our niche expertise in automated fibre placement (AFP) processing, secured the deal.”
The Tulsa-based company began the rigorous request-for-proposal process a year ago, which concluded with a “top-to-bottom” technical site visit and review by Northrop Grumman.
To meet that demand, NTR facility upgrades and new equipment purchases are in process, such as paint shop enhancements, two new high-tech automated fibre placement machines (AFP) for laying carbon fibre tape, and an additional five-axis cutter.
NTR vice president and general manager John Clawson anticipates approximately 20 months of build-up activity and the addition of about 20 related positions before full production is underway. “As this is a new platform for us, we’ll attain key process certifications in the course of performing work on the contract, including qualification by Lockheed Martin to work on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.”
“We are confident those achievements will further enhance Nordam’s attractiveness when proposing on new work within the same and similar platforms for these two major defence contractors.”