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Avcorp awarded F-35 contracts by BAE Systems


July 28, 2020
By Jon Robinson

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An F-35C – with an outboard wing assembly produced in Delta, BC, by Avcorp – on approach for an arrested carrier landing. (Photo: Lockheed Martin)

Avcorp Industries Inc. of Delta, British Columbia, has been awarded contracts by BAE Systems for the assembly of the F-35 Carrier Variant Outboard Wing. Building on an 11-year F-35 relationship between the two companies, the new contracts are worth approximately $87 million and extend into 2022. Overseeing the manufacture of all aft fuselage globally, as well as horizontal and vertical tails and other crucial components, BAE Systems is key piece of a multi-nation manufacturing supply chain building the fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II, which is ultimately coordinated through the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) with Lockheed Martin serving as the prime contractor.

There are more than 110 Canadian companies contributing to the production of the F-35 program, which Lockheed Martin estimates to represent more than $1.5 billion in terms of contract value over the life of the program – more than $2.1 million worth of Canadian-built components are on every F-35. Avcorp’s build of the F-35 Carrier Variant Outboard Wing (CV-OBW) is regarded as one of the more complex assemblies manufactured for the F-35 by the Canadian aerospace industry.

The Outboard Wing is the foldable portion of the wing on the carrier version of the F-35 aircraft, designated as the F-35C, with the F-35A serving as the conventional takeoff and landing aircraft variant (competing in Canada’s Future Fighter competition) and the F-35B variant primarily defined by lift-fan technology for vertical takeoff and landing. The foldable wingtips of the F-35C allow for storage on a carrier’s hangar deck and for two aircraft to be simultaneously brought up by elevator to the flight deck.

The F-35C with its folded wingspan at 29-feet during sea trials aboard USS Eisenhower. (Photo: Lockheed Martin, Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Anderson W. Branch)

When not folded to 29-feet, the F-35C has a larger wingspan than both the F-35A and F-35B variants – at 43-feet versus 35-feet, respectively – to generate maximum lift when coming off the end of the carrier deck. The larger horizontal surface area of its wings also allows the F-35C to bleed off energy for arrested carrier landings. The F-35C has the greatest internal fuel capacity of the three F-35 variants, carrying nearly 20,000 pounds of internal fuel for what the JPO describes as longer range and better persistence than any other fighter in a combat configuration.

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The Ties That Bind, Fifth Generation Build

Combining its range with the fifth-generation capabilities of stealth and sensor fusion, JPO notes the F-35C will serve as the U.S. Navy’s future first-day-of-the-war strike fighter – unique in the world as a purpose-built carrier aircraft with very low observability never before deployed at sea. The U.S. Navy is the largest customer receiving F-35Cs, with the U.S. Marine Corps also acquiring the C variant in addition to the F-35B.

“We are extremely pleased with the award of these significant contracts for our military and defense production lines,” said Amandeep Kaler, CEO, Avcorp Group, about the new contract extensions.

Avcorp secured its first F-35 Outboard Wing contract back in in 2009, with initial production beginning mid-2010. (Photo: Avcorp)

Avcorp’s Structures & Integrations facility in Delta is the single source supplier for the F-35 CV-OBW assembly under contract with BAE Systems. The assemblies are delivered directly to the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics facility in Fort Worth, Texas, which holds a mile-long production line to produce all three F-35 variants. Avcorp secured the F-35 Outboard Wing contract back in in 2009, with initial production beginning in mid-2010 and the first CV-OBW delivery announced by the company in January 2012.

Avcorp also operates its Avcorp Composite Fabrication facility in Gardena, California, which supplies medium- to large-sized, complex shape composite aerostructures; and its Comtek Advanced Structures facility in Burlington, Ontario, which provides design, build and manufacturing services.