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Orbital ATK to provide USAF with new B-2 bomber composite components

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World Aviation Defense & Security Industry News - Orbital ATK
 
 
Orbital ATK to provide USAF with new B-2 bomber composite components
 
Orbital ATK, a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, announced today that it has received an initial $90 million contract from Northrop Grumman to produce composite components for the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber with an option for follow-on orders.
     
A B-2 Spirit from Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., performed air refueling with a KC-135 Stratotanker from Royal Air Force Mildenhall June 11, 2014, over Cornwall, England
(Credit: U.S. Air Force Senior Airman/Christine Griffiths)
     
Under the terms of the 5-year contract, Orbital ATK will perform Non-Recurring Engineering (NRE) and produce 17 Hot Trailing Edge (HTE) composite parts. Production will take place at Orbital ATK's Aerospace Structures Division facility in Dayton, Ohio, later this year.

Located behind the exhaust nozzles on the aircraft's upper surface, the B-2 HTE experiences repeated thermal and vibro-acoustic stress. The polyimide material presently used for HTEs degrades quickly in this operational environment; as the incessant exposure to heat and engine exhaust exceeds its capabilities, the material cracks and the resin disintegrates.

Recognizing the need for a more resilient material, AFRL in 2010 commenced its design of a new application based on AFR PE 4, the maturation of which culminates work started in the late 1990s towards a new composite material. The successful demonstration of this AFR-PE-4-based design prompted the technology's transition from the lab to a production environment, thanks to the combined efforts of AFRL, Hill AFB, and UDRI.

The U.S. Air Force's B-2 Spirit stealth bomber is a key component of the nation's long-range strike arsenal, and one of the most survivable aircraft in the world. Its unique capabilities, including its stealth characteristics, allow it to penetrate the most sophisticated enemy defenses and hold at risk high value, heavily defended targets.

We are honored to partner with Northrop Grumman to extend the service life of the B-2 bomber," said Steve Earl, Vice President and General Manager of Orbital ATK’s Aerospace Structures Division. “This program capitalizes on our core competency of providing advanced composite structures that use innovative Orbital ATK manufacturing processes to fit our customer’s needs.”

In its aerospace composites business, Orbital ATK uses proprietary production processes that shorten the manufacturing cycle and produce extremely high quality, complex components with unmatched repeatability through sophisticated robotics automation.