Lockheed Martin has awarded an investment casting hard tooling contract to IBC Engineered Materials (IBC-EMC) in support of its F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter (JSF) electro-optical targeting system (EOTS).
Under the contract, the IBC Advanced Alloys’ wholly owned US subsidiary will design, manufacture and implement hard tooling, which is expected to be used as a part of the final qualification process to establish Beralcast castings as an effective beryllium-aluminum alternative for precision optical components for the F-35 fighter.
The company is already demonstrating the viability of Beralcast castings to improve lead times and affordability of high-performance aerospace components made from beryllium aluminum alloys.
IBC president and CEO Anthony Dutton said, "Our company is committed to delivering advanced beryllium aluminum casting solutions, not only for Lockheed Martin and the F-35 Lightning II but also for other aerospace industry initiatives where modulus, weight and cost are critical performance factors."
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Having already completed several advanced prototype castings, IBC-EMC is now set to use the hard tooling to deliver a first article casting for pre-production approval.
Designed for use in any high-performance application requiring complex, lightweight and high-stiffness parts, Beralcast alloys can also be substituted for aluminum, magnesium, titanium, metal matrix composites and pure beryllium or powder metallurgy beryllium-aluminum.
The high-modulus alloy consists of more than three times stiffer than aluminum with 22% less weight, and can also be precision-cast for simple and complex three-dimensional stability.
Currently under development in three versions, including a conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant, a short takeoff and landing (STOVL) and a carrier version (CV), the F-35 is a fifth-generation multirole fighter designed to conduct ground attack, reconnaissance and air defence missions with stealth capability.