Aerospace / Defense Industry Snapshot

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Electromechanical Assemblies

Excel Gear Producing Gear Boxes for U.S. Navy's Advanced Gun System

Gear Box Assists Positioning of 78-Ton Turret on Navy's DDG 1000 Class of Warships

ROSCOE, Ill.--Excel Gear, Inc. (www.excelgear.com) announced last fall its transition from the prototype to the production stage on the first order of 38:1 ratio gear boxes for the Advanced Gun System (AGS) program. The 38:1 ratio gear boxes are specifically designed to assist positioning of the gun mount for the AGS, a 155mm gun weapon system for the U.S. Navy's DDG 1000 class of land-attack destroyers that are used to support Navy and Marine Corps expeditionary and joint operation in the littorals and deep inland. BAE Systems (Minneapolis, Minn.), the primary contractor for the AGS and Excel's customer for this project, approved the prototypes of the 38:1 ratio gear boxes.

"This achievement marks a very important milestone in the history of our company, and we all worked very diligently as a team to attain this business and see its successful execution," said Mr. N.K. Chinnusamy, president of Excel Gear, in a prepared statement. "Everyone at Excel Gear is proud to be a part of the AGS program."

BAE Systems developed the AGS as a complete weapons delivery system, utilizing extensive rapid and virtual prototyping for the gun, magazine, ammunitions, and support subsystems. The AGS produces high-volume, sustainable gunfire of guided or unguided projectiles at targets over 70 nautical miles. It is reportedly capable of firing 10 rounds per minute from a fully automated magazine.

Excel Gear was responsible for the complete design and prototyping of the gear box. The company utilized its full CAD and finite element analysis (FEA) capabilities, as well as manufacturing facilities in Roscoe, Illinois, to produce a pair of prototypes for evaluation and performance testing at BAE Systems prior to release of the production order.

Chinnusamy told Design-2-Part Magazine that Excel Gear's extensive design and analysis capabilities were important factors in BAE Systems' decision to choose the company for the gearbox project. "We redesigned the concept of the gear box, and the concept drawing that we showed to them was a determining factor," said Chinnusamy. "We showed that we could reduce costs by simplifying the gearbox and making it easier to manufacture, while also making it stiffer and stronger." The ability to withstand heavy shock loads is crucial in a defense application, such as the gear box, because of the risk of exposure to potentially heavy shock waves resulting from a missile strike. "Our capabilities for performing finite element analysis were important to prove to them that the gear boxes could withstand heavy shock loads," he said.

In operation, the gear boxes built by Excel Gear assist with the rotary and vertical positioning of the AGS gun mount. Extensive testing on the gear box prototypes was performed at both Excel and BAE Systems to validate the specifications. One of the key challenges in this critical application was limiting the backlash.

"Backlash in this case is controlled by precision grinding gears to close tolerance and also grinding splines to fit master gages," Chinnusamy explained. "The gear box had to meet very precise backlash, lost motion, and stiffness criteria; our two prototype gear boxes met all the criteria without any exceptions."

Granite State Manufacturing Awarded Multi-Year Contract for Sub Refurbishment Programs

MANCHESTER, N.H.--Granite State Manufacturing (GSM), an Allard Nazarian Group company, will utilize its highly trained workforce of skilled machinists, mechanics, and welders, to perform work under a $26 million, multi-year contract for manufacturing and refurbishing naval submarine antenna, periscope, and communication systems for the United States Navy. The work will be performed at the company's facilities in Manchester, N.H., and Baltimore, Md., and will utilize GSM's expertise in the manufacturing of precision mechanical and hydraulic marine systems. The contract award, announced in February, expands GSM's existing business with the United States Navy and broadens the scope of manufacturing operations at the Manchester and Baltimore facilities.

Granite State Manufacturing, an organization that combines value engineering, program management, and in-house, state-of-the-art production facilities, has been operating in Manchester, N.H., since 1938. The company, which employs 150 skilled technical and manufacturing personnel in Manchester and an additional 20 employees at its facility in Baltimore, has a "decades-long history" of providing the Navy with specialized technology and capabilities.

"We are honored to continue Granite State Manufacturing's long tradition of building precision components for the U.S. Navy fleet of submarines," said GSM Chief Executive Officer, John Allard, in a statement announcing the award. "This contract further strengthens our core manufacturing business and will allow us to maintain and grow our employment here in Manchester and Baltimore."

Granite State Manufacturing offers the military, semiconductor, and pharmaceutical industries a full range of manufacturing services, including precision machining, metal fabrication, welding, soldering, mechanical assembly, electrical assembly, and testing.

Startup Introduces Mono-Tilt-Rotor (MTR) Vertical Lift Off and Landing (VTOL) Aircraft Design

Design Utilizes Electromagnetic Rotary Frictionless Technology

BOSTON, Mass.--AeroCopter, Inc., a Boston startup that says it's "pioneering the third generation of airborne transportation systems," recently completed a detail design configuration for a commercial two-seat passenger Personal Air Vehicle (PAV) and military/civilian Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) aircraft. The PAV and UAV utilize what the company calls "disruptive technologies," consisting of advanced rotary aircraft systems: a counter-rotating Mono-Tilt-Rotor (electromagnetic rotary frictionless) and co-axial twisted electronic blade control.

The MTR VTOL aircraft has the vertical take off and landing (VTOL) capabilities of a helicopter with the horizontal speed and payload of a traditional jet airplane. According to the company, these capabilities enable on-demand and point-to-point high speed transportation services for commercial and military purposes while reducing capital and operating expenses.

The AeroCopter VTOL PAV (Sarus) and VTOL UAV (Kestrel) use a four-twisted blade, an MTR (ring), a fuselage that's encircled by the vehicle's ring, and one unified propulsion system that provides a power source during hover and flight modes. During take-off and landing flight operation, the ring lies horizontally and provides downward thrust to enable vertical take-off and landing. Once the vehicle has reached an altitude of 1,000 feet, the ring rotates gradually to an angle of 87 degrees and locked to propel the aircraft forwards.

The Sarus aircraft is capable of carrying 2-8 passengers and their baggage, while the Kestrel aircraft is capable of carrying up to 400 pounds of food, supplies, and weaponry systems. Sarus and Kestrel have an estimated total gross weight of 2900 pounds and length (diameter) of 27 feet, allowing a cruise speed in excess of 220 knots at 8,000 feet and range of 300 nautical miles on one tank of fuel.

LaBarge Producing Electronics for LAIRCM Missile Defense Program

Company Awarded $1.6 Million Contract from Northrop Grumman in February

ST. LOUIS, Mo.--Producing electronics for the AN/AAQ-24(V) Directional Infrared Countermeasure (DIRCM) system is nothing new for LaBarge, Inc., a contract design and manufacturing company that has worked on the program for nearly a decade. Since receiving a $1.6 million contract from Northrop Grumman Corporation in February for the Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) Missile Defense Program, LaBarge has continued to produce electronics for the DIRCM system at its Tulsa, Okla., facility. The company, a Northrop Grumman Preferred Supplier, was expected to continue production on the contract through the beginning of April 2009.

The Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) system is reportedly the only operational DIRCM system in production today that is designed to protect military aircraft from infrared-guided missiles. The LAIRCM system automatically detects a missile launch, determines if it is a threat, and activates a high-intensity countermeasures system to track and defeat the threat. A modular system, LAIRCM comprises a family of proven components that can be mixed and matched (based on specific platform, mission, and budget requirements) to protect a wide range of large and small aircraft, both rotary and fixed wing.

Through its contract design and manufacturing services, LaBarge (www.labarge.com) provides technology-driven companies in diverse markets with sophisticated electronic and electromechanical products. The company also announced in February that it has received $3.4 million in follow-on orders from BAE Systems to manufacture ruggedized circuit card assemblies for military applications. LaBarge has been producing the assemblies since 2006 and anticipates receiving additional orders. According to the company, the new orders will continue production of the circuit card assemblies at its Tulsa, Okla., facility through January 2010.

Applied Aerospace Structures to Manufacture Taurus II Composite Structures

STOCKTON, Calif.--Applied Aerospace Structures Corporation (AASC) announced earlier this year that it has been awarded a contract by Orbital Sciences Corporation to manufacture the composite structures for the Taurus II Launch Vehicle, a two-stage launch vehicle with the ability to reliably send up to approximately 12,000 pounds to space. The contract was reported to be in final negotiations with the potential of up to five ship sets per year, according to AASC.

The largest of the composite structures to be manufactured by AASC is the Payload Fairing, a 12-foot, 8-inch diameter x 32-foot, 4-inch long structure consisting of honeycomb core and composite face sheets. Along with the Payload Fairing, AASC will also manufacture the Fairing Adaptor (12-foot, 4-inch diameter x 6 inches), the Stage 2 Motor Adaptor (12-foot, 4-inch diameter x 44 inches), the Stage 2 Interstage (12-foot, 4-inch diameter x 20 inches), the Payload Adaptor (8-foot, 8-inch diameter x 8 inches), and the Avionics Cylinder (7-foot, 8-inch diameter x 27 inches). Applied Aerospace Structures will fabricate all components in its 245,000-square-foot Stockton, Calif., facility. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in late 2009.

Applied Aerospace Structures Corporation (www.aascworld.com) is an ISO 9001:2000 and AS9100 certified provider of complex composite and metal bonded structures and assemblies for military and commercial applications. Based in Stockton, Calif., AASC designs and fabricates critical, lightweight, high-performance, engineered structural assemblies for the aerospace industry.

Lockheed Martin Selects HITCO to Produce Components for F-35 Program

LOS ANGELES, Calif.--Lockheed Martin has selected HITCO Carbon Composites, Inc., to manufacture wing skins and other components for the F-35 Lightning II program, according to a statement released by HITCO, a Gardena, Calif.-based subsidiary of SGL Group-The Carbon Company. HITCO will serve as a Strategic Competitive Supplier to Lockheed Martin, and, using its automated fiber placement (AFP) capabilities, will support F-35 program requirements that designate the use of bismaleimide (BMI) composite materials for upper and lower wing skins and nacelle skins, the company said.

According to HITCO (www.hitco.com), its opportunity extends from low-rate initial production (LRIP) through full-rate production (FRP). The company may also build the BMI aft and forward covers and upper wing skin covers.

Edward G. Carson, the company's executive vice president, said that HITCO and its parent company, SGL Group, "have made significant investments in automated manufacturing capacity within the last two years." These investments, he added, have enabled HITCO to "fulfill its mission of becoming a world-class, Tier II supplier to the aerospace industry."

"HITCO intends to utilize its Viper® 6000 Automated Fiber Placement (AFP) machine to manufacture the majority of these components," Carson said in the statement. "We can achieve more efficient and reliable fabrication of complex composite aircraft structures utilizing this state-of-the-art equipment. We will also build on the expertise HITCO has developed with BMI composite materials in our current work with Lockheed Martin."

The F-35 Lighting II, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter, is a new single-seat, single-engine, supersonic stealth strike fighter that is built in three different versions: a conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) aircraft, a short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant, and an aircraft carrier-based (CV) model.

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