Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI, Ben Gurion Interanational Airport, Israel) reported on April 11 that Marillyn Hewson, chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin, met with Israel Aerospace Industries' (IAI) president and CEO Joseph Weiss, at the IAI F-35 Lightning II figher jet composite wings production line as IAI prepares for first-article delivery of wing structures to Lockheed Martin.
IAI signed a contract with Lockheed Martin in April 2013 for production of composites wings for the F-35. Since then, IAI has invested considerably in the advanced systems and technologies required for the wings' production. An advanced, state-of-the-art and automated production line was established at IAI's main campus. The automated line is characterized by the highest accuracy, including strict control of humidity and temperature conditions as well as ensuring environmental protection during the production process. The upper skin of the wings is comprised of composite materials, developed especially for the F-35.
The first article delivery F-35 wing assembly is expected to begin as planned, in September 2014, and be followed soon after by serial production. IAI will begin delivering the F-35 wings in mid-2015. The contract's duration is for 10 to 15 years, with potential sales reaching $2.5 billion.
IAI LAHAV's wing production center is known for its experience and knowledge in producing wings for Lockheed Martin's F-16 and the U.S. Air Force's T-38 aircraft, as well as assemblies for other aircraft and customers.
Hewson says, “This is another significant milestone in the industrial cooperation that Lockheed Martin has with the Israeli defense industry. IAI has been manufacturing several components for our products for many years and the production of F-35 wings will be a continuation of this process”
Weiss says, "This new and advanced production line represents an important milestone for IAI and ensures its involvement in the world's most advanced fighter aircraft. We welcome the strengthening relationship with Lockheed Martin and look forward to expanding IAI's work share in the production and sustainment of the F-35 program."