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3-D Woven Composites for the Joint Strike Fighter

FORT WORTH, Texas, Nov. 8 - The Lockheed Martin team is using three-dimensional (3-D) woven composite, preformed structural parts in its design for the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) to improve the ability of composites to efficiently carry out-of-plane structural loads.

In addition, the use of 3-D woven composite preforms permits novel aircraft structural concepts that reduce weight while achieving a more affordable product.

Lockheed Martin selected this approach to overcome the limited ability of composite materials to effectively handle complex, out-of-plane loads. This shortcoming was identified in the 1998 annual report of the Composites Affordability Initiative (CAI). CAI is a government and industry consortium dedicated to the advancement of composite materials technology.

"The application of 3-D preforms to the JSF inlet duct reduces the cost of the duct by at least $200,000 and saves more than 80 pounds of weight," said Martin McLaughlin, leader of the JSF Airframe Demonstrations Integrated Product Team and a Northrop Grumman employee.

These composite structural material technologies had their beginnings in the late 1980s in the design phase of Japan's FS-X (now F-2) fighter, in which Lockheed Martin is participating in development and production. Lockheed Martin and its JSF partner, Northrop Grumman, are demonstrating the structural efficiency and affordability of using 3-D woven composite preforms on the JSF inlet duct and other structural components. The additional insight into the producibility and applicability of this process by Northrop Grumman has significantly increased the team's technical design database. The preforms were fabricated by Bally Ribbon Mills, Bally, Pa., using conventional weaving machines.

The engine air inlet of Lockheed Martin's JSF production design consists of a seamless fiber-placed duct stiffened with 3-D woven composite preforms. The use of these preforms for stiffening eliminates 95 percent of fasteners through the duct. Fewer fasteners improves aerodynamic and signature performance, eliminates fuel leak paths and simplifies manufacturing assembly, all resulting in a more robust, affordable and supportable aircraft.

Lockheed Martin received one of two JSF Concept Demonstration contracts awarded by the Department of Defense in November 1996. The Lockheed Martin JSF team includes Northrop Grumman and British Aerospace. Flight evaluation of the demonstrator aircraft is scheduled to take place in 2000, with government selection of a contractor for the Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase set for 2001.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global enterprise principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture and integration of advanced-technology systems, products and services. The Corporation's core businesses are systems integration, space, aeronautics and technology services.

For information on Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE:LMT), visit http://www.lockheedmartin.com

For information on Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems, visit: http://www.thefighterenterprise.com

For information on Lockheed Martin Joint Strike Fighter program, visit: http://www.jsfteam.com

CONTACT: Carolyn Hodge of Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems, 817-777-8110, or pager, 800-489-6188, or email, carolyn.c.hodge@lmco.com

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