Materion Beryllium & Composites reported it made its first delivery of finished aluminum-beryllium investment castings to Lockheed Martin for the F-35 Lightning II Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS), an air-to-air and air-to-surface targeting system on the fighter jet built by Lockheed Martin and numerous suppliers for the U.S. Dept. of Defense.
The EOTS is described as the first sensor to combine forward-looking infrared and infrared search-and-track functionality. It reportedly improves F-35 pilots’ situational awareness and helps them to identify areas of interest, perform reconnaissance, and deliver laser- and GPS-guided weapons with precision.
Lockheed recently won the U.S. Dept. of Defense’s approval to proceed with purchases for the tenth production series in the F-35 program. The first aircraft will enter service this year with the U.S. Marine Corps. The fighter jets will be deployed as well by the U.S. Air Force (which is using the jets in air exercises already), the U.S. Navy, and the U.K. Royal Air Force, and defense forces in several NATO and other Allied nations.
Materion installed investment-casting capability two years ago at its Elmore, OH, complex to produce the EOTS parts using its AlBeCast alloy, and partnered with Aristo Cast Inc. to perfect its processes. The finished casting previously passed Lockheed's first-article-inspection (FAI) testing.
According to Materion, AlBeCast investment casting alloys are 25% less dense than aluminum, and have four times the specific stiffness of aluminum, titanium, steel, and magnesium. They have higher dampening capacity than aluminum and a coefficient of thermal expansion almost 50% lower than aluminum.
“We are proud to supply Lockheed Martin with parts and materials for these critical investment cast components, and we are pleased to support Lockheed Martin’s cost-reduction efforts on the F-35 EOTS program with the AlBeCast technology breakthroughs,” stated W. Glenn Maxwell, president of the Materion Performance Metals group.
Maxwell said Materion has been awarded materials contracts for six other, high-performance beryllium-containing parts in the Lockheed Martin EOTS.