On June 21st, 2023, at the Paris International Air Show, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) related to the production of F-35 composite parts has been signed between Lockheed Martin and Sabca. Upon the decision for procurement of the US F-35 for Belgian Defense, the framework of the “Essential Security Interests” (ESI) allowed for Belgian industrial participation in this program.
More specifically, the ESI 005, concerning the production of F-35 composite parts, allows Lockheed Martin to assist Sabca in becoming a producer of F-35 lower wing skins (LWS), utilizing fiber placement manufacturing. Qualification for production of additional composite parts such as the upper wing covers (known as “the big 5”) will also be included in the ESI 005.
This MoU lays the basis for Sabca to become a long-term provider of Lower Wing Skins and Big 5 for the F35. Both parties are now committed to come to a successful contractual agreement on this basis.
This MoU is to be considered as a valuable next step in the partnership between Lockheed Martin (the Original Equipment Manufacturer of the F-35) and Sabca, which results in the transfer and development of the most innovative Automated Fiber Placement (AFP) composite manufacturing technology. It is a follow on to the earlier ESI 006 agreement, related to the production of F-35 horizontal tails and which is currently in the implementation phase in the Sabca Limburg entity.
The ESI 005 will trigger a second wave of investment and undoubtedly will be beneficial for the regional employment of highly qualified personnel and will strenghten the technological basis of Sabca and the Belgian industry.