BAE Systems opens titanium machining facility

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BAE Systems has opened a new titanium machining facility at its Samlesbury site in Lancashire.

The 9,000m2 robotic facility will be used to manufacture detail and assembly components of the aft fuselage, vertical tail and horizontal tail for the F-35 Lightning II combat aircraft.

The new facility comprises two computerised Flexible Manufacturing Systems (FMS) which manage the manufacturing requirements and machine-tool utilisation and interface with order-book requirements, which aid ‘just-in-time’ manufacture of components.

According to BAE Systems, each FMS contains eight large hard metal milling machines, two long spar longeron machines and is supported by a number of secondary operations.

The facility is equipped to allow two titanium components to be produced at the same time, a capability said to be critical for meeting the growing demands of the F-35 Lightning II programme. At full-rate production, the programme will potentially see aircraft produced at a rate of one per day.

‘The facility contains extremely complex manufacturing systems that have taken years to design, with some being the first of their kind in world,’ said Mark Kane, BAE Systems’ managing director - Air Mission Support and Services.