Orbital ATK has successfully completed the production of the 5,000th composite part for Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter aircraft.

Manufactured using advanced automated and hand lay-up processing techniques, the 5,000 composite parts are equivalent to nearly 430 ship sets.

The company currently produces approximately 90% of the upper and lower wing skins, engine nacelles, access covers, and fixed skins for the F-35 aircraft at its Aerospace Structures Division facility in Clearfield, Utah, US.

After being manufactured, the parts are machined by Janicki Industries and then delivered to Lockheed Martin and its international suppliers.

The F-35 composite development programme involves more than 1,400 domestic suppliers across 46 US states and Puerto Rico.

The project helps sustain more than 170,000 direct and indirect jobs across the country with $24bn added to the economy every year.

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“The project helps sustain more than 170,000 direct and indirect jobs across the country with $24bn added to the economy every year.”

Orbital ATK Aerospace Structures Division vice-president and general manager Steve Earl said: “This milestone not only reflects our long-term partnership with Lockheed Martin on the F-35 programme, it also showcases the growth of composite manufacturing in Utah as Orbital ATK has added over 500 jobs in the past two years and expects to add many more jobs over the next 20 years.”

Parts for the fighter jets are produced by Orbital ATK at its 403,000ft2 Freeport Composite Center (FCC) facility in Utah.

Last year, the company received a contract to develop bullnose and blade seals for the F-35 Lightning II aircraft.

Lockheed Martin’s F-35 is a fifth-generation aircraft that features advanced stealth combined with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations, advanced sustainment, as well as lower operational and support costs.