Design change knocks $1 million off production costs

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics has developed a new horizontal stabilator design for the F-22 Raptor that will save the company $1 million per aircraft.

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics has developed a new horizontal stabilator design for the F-22 Raptor that will save the program $1 million per aircraft.

Stabilators are the large, left and right-hand wing-like aerodynamic control structures horizontally mounted to the F-22’s tail. They work either together or independently to control the Raptor’s pitch, spin, roll, and yaw movements.

Unlike stabilisers, which have both a fixed and a moving surface, the entire horizontal stabilator moves as a single unit to reposition the aircraft in the air.

Lockheed Martin’s new stabilator design is said to involve mechanically fastening composite materials around a central shaft rather than bonding the materials under high pressure and heat in an autoclave.

The new design also incorporates removable edges, which will make the stabilators easier to maintain or repair in the field.

The manufacturing process associated with the new design will shave approximately 30 pounds of weight from each stabilator and reduce its build time by approximately 25 percent.

‘The development and implementation of the stabilator’s new design and manufacturing process is part of the F-22 program’s ongoing product improvement initiative,’ said Bob Rearden, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics vice president and F-22 program general manager.

‘The savings incurred through this initiative will help contain the F-22’s cost, and ensure that we can build all the Raptor’s the U.S. Air Force needs at a price our country can afford,’ he added. Currently, the U.S. Air Force has an F-22 acquisition goal of 339 aircraft.

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. has selected Vought Aircraft Industries of Dallas, Texas, to build the new stabilator. Under the terms of this initial $40 million contract, Vought will begin manufacturing the new stabilators early next year and produce 85 shipsets through to 2007.

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