The purpose of this project was to reduce the weight and cost of airframe components through the utilization of advanced metalworking technologies. Two advanced metalworking technologies, advanced High Speed Machining (HSM) and Electron Beam Free Form Fabrication (EBFFF), were down-selected during an initial concept exploration project. Design and development were completed during Phase I. In Phase II, a full-scale significant structural test article consisting of both metal and composite parts was built and tested to demonstrate the applicability of the advanced metalworking technologies. Advanced HSM was used to manufacture ultra-thin, aluminum spars, and EBFFF technology was used to produce lower-cost titanium components.
The project demonstrated a total potential cost avoidance of $77,351,000 for a fleet of 150 aircraft and a 16% to 35% weight reduction of affected parts. In addition to reduced fuel costs, the weight savings could lead to performance enhancements such as increased payload and endurance.
The full-scale test article met or exceeded all requirements established by NAVAIR. The next opportunity to transition the advanced metalworking technologies into the Navy UCAS Production Vehicle will be the System Design and Development program. The potential build contractor will continue working with the N-UCAS program office to impact implementation. By inserting ManTech solutions early in the design process, this project will reduce life-cycle costs, preserve development schedules and promote timely transition to the N-UCAS Platform.