Alenia Aeronautica has begun pre-production work on the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The Italian manufacturer will be the second-source provider of wings for the JSF, and is forecasting production of about 1,300 shipsets between 2010 and 2028.
Alenia has opened the first component manufacturing line at its Foggia site and is completing other facilities infrastructure. The company will produce F-35 wing sections at centres across Italy: carbonfibre skins at Foggia, machined components at Nola, and structural assembly and system installation in Piedmont facilities.
Alenia will begin testing and validation of production processes at the Foggia site in preparation for series production. Production of major components, such as composite skins and subassemblies, is expected to begin in 2009 for the third low-rate initial production batch of F-35s.
This will lead progressively to delivery of complete wings by 2012, with the aim of delivering the first aircraft equipped with Italian wings in 2014. Alenia is also responsible for structural design of the outer wingbox for the F-35A conventional take-off and F-35C carrier variant of the JSF.
Source: Flight International