Bulking Up

Alcoa announced Thursday that it will refurbish and repair its 50,000-ton forging press in Cleveland over the next two years to support the F-35 strike fighter program. The company will invest more than $110 million in the Cleveland Works through 2011 renovating the massive, 92-foot press, which will cast aluminum bulkheads for the F-35. The press has stood idle since August 2008 when cracks were discovered in it. Right now Alcoa is using a smaller, 35,000-ton press, also in Cleveland, to supply the F-35 bulkheads. But the need for bulkheads will exceed the capacity of the smaller press at some point next decade as Lockheed Martin reaches full rates of production for the fighter, Bloomberg news wire service reported Thursday, citing William Christopher, Alcoa executive vice president. “The F-35 absolutely is the driving factor” behind the repair and refurbishment, said Christopher.