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BAE Systems signs advanced manufacturing contract for the global F-35 Lightning II program

F-35 Lightning II
Adelaide, Australia: BAE Systems signed an agreement last Wednesday to provide advanced manufactured components for the F-35 program as part of a long-term arrangement with Northrop Grumman Corporation.

Under an agreement valued at approximately US $15 million that commences in 2015, the Company will manufacture around 1000 Audio Control Electronic (ACE) modules, a component for the F-35 aircraft’s Communication, Navigation and Identification (CNI) avionics suite, developed by Northrop Grumman. The agreement initially augments Northrop Grumman’s in-house manufacturing of the ACE module but provides potential to become the single-source supplier with increased delivery quantities until the year 2036.

David Allott, BAE Systems Australia Chief Executive, said: “BAE Systems will use the latest technology to support one of the world’s most advanced integrated avionics systems. Our Company will establish the only defence accredited parylene coating capability in Australia and apply advanced manufacturing techniques to produce high-end components for the digital battlespace.”

The 120-strong team at Edinburgh Parks will build and assemble parts, as well as integrate and test the electro-mechanical assemblies. The new parylene technology will use gas to uniformly apply a coating on the parts, which is done in a vacuum chamber, at room temperature. It is hoped that this capability will generate opportunities with other defence, medical and telecommunications companies.

Northrop Grumman's integrated CNI system provides F-35 pilots with the capability of more than 27 avionics functions including voice and data communication. By using its industry-leading software-defined radio technology, the design allows the simultaneous operation of multiple critical functions while greatly reducing size, weight and power demands on the advanced fighter aircraft.

Under separate contracts, BAE Systems Australia manufactures F-35 vertical tail titanium parts for Victoria-based engineering firm Marand and BAE Systems Plc in the UK. Long thin spar production started in August from its new titanium manufacturing facility at Edinburgh Parks and the first delivery of these parts to BAE Systems Plc is expected this month.