ZAVENTEM, Belgium --- Fokker Technologies, a business of GKN Aerospace, awarded a contract to Asco Industries for the supply of Flaperon Spars for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II program.
Asco will perform the manufacturing and integrated surface treatments on the spars at their corporate facility in Zaventem, Belgium. The F-35’s Flaperon Spars are highly complex titanium machined components, which form the core of the flap located at the trailing edge of the wing.
The spars will be delivered to Fokker in the Netherlands who performs the assembly in composite material and delivers the complete flap to Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, USA.
The agreement was signed in presence of Fokker Technologies’ Vice President Procurement & SCM, Toine Verbruggen and Asco Industries’ Chief Commercial Officer, Laurent Canoen.
Toine Verbruggen, Vice President Procurement and Supply Chain Management of GKN Aerospace’s Fokker business, said: “This agreement will contribute to a European supply chain network for the F-35. We know ASCO as a world class supplier of high lift structures and components. We look forward to work together on this program”.
Laurent Canoen, Chief Commercial Officer at Asco Industries, said: “Asco is very excited to partner with Fokker Technologies in the F-35 program and to further develop the relationship between our companies. This contract award marks yet another step in Asco’s continuous support to Lockheed Martin’s F-35 program across our different global entities.”
Lockheed Martin engaged with Fokker Technologies to develop ASCO Belgium as a source for the titanium flaperon spar in the context of the Belgian F-16 Replacement Program. (Emphasis added—Ed.) Through this contract award, ASCO Belgium’s industrial and technical capabilities will expand and drive affordable solutions for the F-35 Program.
Asco Industries engages in the development, manufacture, treatment, and assembly of steel and titanium high precision components for the aerospace industry. The company offers flap actuation devices, slat actuation systems, engine & wing attachments, and landing gear components. The company was founded in 1954 and is headquartered in Zaventem with over 1,500 employees and a turnover exceeding 450 million US-dollar.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: As the highlighted sentence above explains, this contract was awarded at the behest of Lockheed Martin to demonstrate its ability to award offset contracts to Belgian industry, as part of its marketing effort to sell F-35 fighters to Belgium.
However, F-35 program regulations forbid production awards to nations that are neither program members nor customers, as well as direct offset contracts.
To get around these regulations, Lockheed awarded the contract to the Dutch subsidiary of a UK company – both countries are F-35 program partners – and directed that the subcontract be awarded to ASCO Belgium.
While this may convince some, it remains obligatory that F-35 production contracts be awarded to the manufacturer offering a compliant product at the lowest possible price.
As such, there is no guarantee that Belgian industry will be able to win any F-35 production contracts at all, despite what this single contract is meant to imply.)