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Posted: 10/12/2007 12:11:07 AM EST
[Last Edit: 10/12/2007 12:29:47 AM EST by tyman]
PITTSBURGH - Aluminum maker Alcoa Inc. has been awarded a $360 million contract by the defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. to supply parts for new stealth fighter jets that will replace aging military planes.


Alcoa's forged and cast products division in Cleveland will produce alloy aluminum die forgings for the F-35 Lightning II fighter jet, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter, over the next 10 years, the company said.

The U.S. plans to use the F-35 to replace older planes used by the Marines, Air Force and Navy, including F-16, F-18 and Harrier jets. The F-35 is among the most expensive Pentagon spending programs, costing a total of $275 billion.

The contract includes the design and manufacture of large aluminum structural die forgings for more than 1,200 aircraft. The forgings consist of 15 large wing- and engine-supporting bulkheads and six wing-box parts per plane.

Lockheed Martin expects to build more than 4,000 of the aircraft for the United States and international forces, Alcoa said.

Other Alcoa aerospace businesses will provide F-35 components such as fasteners, alloy plate and high-pressure turbine blades under separate contracts that have not been finalized.

"Our engineers, operations managers and designers have worked collaboratively to offer complex die forgings that will meet weight reduction requirements and extremely tight time frames that will allow our customer to stay on schedule," Joseph E. Haniford, vice president and general manager of the Alcoa unit, said in a statement to be released Friday.

As part of the contract, Alcoa plans to invest $24 million in its Cleveland facility, mainly for new machinery, equipment and infrastructure improvements, according to the company, which is based in Pittsburgh and has executive offices in New York.

Alcoa, Lockheed Martin and government officials plan to announce the contract at the Cleveland facility Friday morning.

Lockheed Martin, based in Bethesda, Md., is the country's largest aerospace and defense contractor. Last year, shares of the company gained more than 46 percent, largely due to strong sales of everything from jet fighters — including the F-35 and the F-22 Raptor — to satellite programs.

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