ATK to help F-35s soar / Clearfield facility to make 'skin' for aircraft

Jul 9 2010 - 11:10am

Images

(NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner) U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett gets a flight lesson from Joe Parish, from Lockheed Martin, for the F-35 LIghtning II cockpit demonstrator during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Title-III funded fiber placement machine at ATK's Freeport facility in Clearfield on Thursday.
(NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner) ATK employees listen to Sen. Bennett speak.
(NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner) U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett gets a flight lesson from Joe Parish, from Lockheed Martin, for the F-35 LIghtning II cockpit demonstrator during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Title-III funded fiber placement machine at ATK's Freeport facility in Clearfield on Thursday.
(NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner) ATK employees listen to Sen. Bennett speak.

CLEARFIELD -- Alliant Techsystems unveiled on Thursday the new, expensive machinery it will use to help build the F-35 joint strike fighter airplane.

Along with that rollout came the update that ATK will hire 120 workers to do the composite work for the F-35 at the Clearfield facility.

"It is good we have that opportunity here," said Clearfield Mayor Don Wood.

This spring, ATK announced it had received a $240 million contract to use high-tech manufacturing in making composite "skins" for the next-generation military fighter plane.

ATK will spend $30 million to install three automated fiber-placement machines at the Freeport Center; one was on display.

"To have in the Top of Utah a top manufacturer ... is something we all can celebrate," said Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah.

Bennett and others were there to see a rare, public showing of the private work ATK does for the military or its contractors.

The company has a production role to 14 different structures for the F-35, a single-seat, single-engine stealth multirole fighter plane scheduled to be delivered within a year.

"The investment in this machinery will enable us to produce our F-35 components faster and cheaper, and support the production ramp-up for these critical planes," said Blake Larson, ATK Aerospace Systems president and a former manager of the Clearfield facility.

The U.S. Department of Defense partnered with ATK to invest in the company's machine enhancements, and Lockheed Martin hired ATK for the composite work.

Several other Northern Utah companies also are doing work on the F-35, and the plane already has long-term ties to Hill Air Force Base.

"It's going to have a huge impact on this region," said Kevin Smith, of Lockheed Martin.

The F-35, also known as the Lightning II, is a supersonic, multirole, fifth-generation stealth fighter designed to replace a wide range of existing aircraft, including AV-8B Harriers, A-10s, F-16s, F/A-18 Hornets and United Kingdom Harrier GR.7s and Sea Harriers.

Military leaders announced that a wing of F-35s might be housed at Hill, and the base already has a maintenance contract for the aircraft.

"The F-35 is essential to our future," said Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah.

From Around the Web

  +