Rockwood Composites has today (24 February 2020) secured an order for parts for 130 decoy launch systems for Babcock International’s Eurofighter programme.
The contract is to supply parts for the towed decoy launch structure to be installed on the Eurofighter.
This was secured on the basis of development work undertaken by Rockwood which established that these parts, which had previously been manufactured using a filament winding process, could be made using Rockwood’s bladder moulding technology.
By doing so, significant quality & cost advantages were gained while maintaining the strength, stiffness, physical size and electromagnetic performance of the existing filament wound parts.
To achieve this required significant technical expertise in many areas:
Ensuring that the materials used achieved the required structural parameters, which involved many hours of testing to achieve the correct balance between the number of layers of composite used and the angle of the fibres within the different layers;
Incrementally adjusting the tooling design according to the results of these tests to ensure that the correct strength, stiffness and size requirements were achieved;
Managing the manufacturing process which involved external bladder moulding on a polished mandrel, to ensure that the structural requirements of the parts were met consistently.
Following the supply of prototype parts which more than met the required parameters, Babcock have now placed a production order.
Gam Mahil, Babcock Buyer for Defence Systems Technology, Marine & Technology said: “This was a technical challenge and Rockwood Composites met this challenge, delivering in terms of quality and cost. The parts are an integral part of our Eurofighter production programme which is progressing full steam ahead.”
Managing Director of Rockwood Composites, Mark Crouchen, said: “When Babcock threw down the gauntlet, it was fantastic to be able to deliver the efficiencies required and to provide a more cost-effective solution with greatly improved quality which meets the exact requirements laid out by Babcock .”
Rockwood has been supplying a wide range of sectors, including aerospace, defence and nuclear for more than 25 years with a proven track record of delivering complex structures.
Mr Crouchen continued: “The Rockwood technical and development team has gained expert knowledge and experience in the field of composite materials and manufacturing processes over many years of designing, developing and manufacturing composite components for a wide range of highly specialised applications”.