American Machinist

ATF structure: 30-50% composites. (Advanced Tactical Fighter)


With the Air Force demonstration and validation program for its next-generation advanced tactical fighter (ATF) completed, some general information on materials usage has been released by contending contractors: Lockheed, which is teamed with General Dynamics and Boeing, and Northrop, which is teamed with McDonnel Douglas. Each team has produced two prototypes and the winner is expected to be announced in a month or so.

The Lockheed prototype, the YF-22, comprises 35% aluminum (including 2% advanced alloys), 24% titanium, 23% graphite-reinforced organics (13% thermoplastics, 10% thermosets), 5% steel, and 13% other materials, according to the company. Bismaleimide (BMI), a more heat-and moisture-resistant thermoset than the more commonly used epoxy, is the matrix material for several composite components, including center-fuselage ducts, frames and bulkheads, and wing and control-surface edges. …

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