F-35 Affordability Blueprint Making Mark

Le Bourget, France—Part of Lockheed Martin’s aggressive strategy to lower the F-35’s unit cost involves the “blueprint for affordability,” said company F-35 Executive Vice President Lorraine Martin on Monday at the Paris Air Show. Rolled out last year, the goal of this government-industry initiative is to help reduce the aircraft’s unit cost by about $10 million by 2019. “We have started to work those projects,” said Martin. Some 178 ideas have come in from across the partner nations and F-35 industrial team; 82 of them are already approved. One idea to utilize “cryogenic machining” is expected to save $4,000 per aircraft—$12 million over the life of the F-35 program—at a total investment of about $119,000, said Martin. This machining uses compressed nitrogen instead of oil-based materials to remove heating from the drilling process without creating byproducts. Another idea involves a partnership with Norway’s Kongsberg Defense Systems to use “die forgings” to improve how titanium blocks are welded into aircraft components now that the F-35’s design is solidified. A $360,000 investment will save some $21,000 per airframe, or some $66 million over the life of the F-35 program, said Martin.