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IBC Engineered Materials has been awarded a contract to supply critical cast components for the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter’s electro-optical targeting system (EOTS).

Awarded by Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, the contract requires the IBC Advanced Alloys’ subsidiary to manufacture EOTS azimuth gimbal housing using its proprietary beryllium-aluminum casting alloy, Beralcast.

The contract covers the production of original equipment manufacturer (OEM) aircraft fitted with EOTS systems and spares for seventh and eighth low-rate initial production (LRIP) lots.

Initially valued at more than $2m for non-recurring engineering (NRE) and hard tooling deliverables, the contract has the potential to increase significantly over the life of the F-35 programme with subsequent LRIP contract awards.

IBC Technical Business Development director Chris Huskamp said: "IBC’s Beralcast® alloys are ideal materials for the F-35 Lightning II programme where certain components need the superior performance of beryllium aluminium.

"This purchase order is an important validation of the Beralcast® as a high-performance casting solution to reduce costs and lead times compared to other beryllium aluminum alternatives."

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"The contract has the potential to increase significantly over the life of the F-35 programme with subsequent LRIP contract awards."

Suitable for several high performance industrial and technology components and a range of aerospace applications, Beralcast alloys can be precision-cast for simple and complex three-dimensional stability and are more than three times stiffer than aluminum, with 22% less weight.

The alloys can be substituted for aluminum, magnesium, titanium, metal matrix composites, pure beryllium or powder metallurgy beryllium-aluminum.

IBC has already started pre-production at its manufacturing facility in Wilmington, Massachusetts, and initial deliveries are scheduled to commence later this year and run into 2015.

The EOTS assembly is designed for all three fifth generation F-35 variants and planned production quantities are estimated to reach more than 3,000 aircraft with deliveries through 2035.

Combining low observable stealth technology with fighter speed and agility, the F-35 variants are scheduled to replace the US Air Force’s A-10 and F-16, the US Navy F/A-18, US Marine Corps’ F/A-18 and AV-8B Harrier, in addition to a variety of fighters of ten other countries.

Defence Technology