The U.S.-led Joint Strike Fighter program represents an important opportunity not only for large Italian aerospace companies, but also for medium-size firms that are playing a significant role in developing the F-35 Lightning. Among these is Milan-based Aerea, whose engineers are directly involved in the aircraft mission equipment integrated project team (IPT) at Lockheed Martin’s main facility in Fort Worth, Texas.
Along with Marvin Engineering Co., Aerea is 50 percent responsible for the qualification and production of the advanced rail launcher. The Italian company is involved also in other components.
For instance, Aerea won a competition with BAE Systems for the development, qualification and production of support equipment. The company has delivered some of that equipment, which had been cleared for use in the conventional takeoff and landing F-35A. In addition, the air, fuel and control systems divisions of U.S. program partner Parker Hannifin has selected Aerea to produce several components used in the fuel and flight control systems. Production line qualification activities are already well under way on this project. Aerea is also supplying structural components for the Lightning II store management system that Smiths Aerospace developed for the JSF.
Aerea is also fully involved in the Eurofighter Typhoon program for which it designed, qualified and is producing the ejection release units (ERU). Over the past two years, the company has developed a new family of ERUs based on pneumatic ejection rather than pyrotechnic charges. There are two versions of the new system, which can carry loads up to 2,000 and 1,000 pounds, respectively, into pneumatically operated systems to allow quicker turnaround operations and requiring less maintenance. They are now being proposed for new aircraft such as the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 jet trainer, and for updating existing systems, such as on the Typhoon.