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Paris Air Show 2019: GKN looks to expand defence business

14 June 2019
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The F-35 is one of GKN’s key military programmes, and GKN is working hard to safeguard its sensitive military and commercial information as it expands into China. Source: US Air Force

GKN Aerospace expects to grow the defence side of its business in the coming years through new opportunities and the ramp-up of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter programme.

Speaking ahead of the Paris Airshow, company CEO Hans Büthker said that the current military-to-civilian balance within the company of 29% and 71% respectively, will change in the near-future in favour of the military, as the F-35 programme (for which GKN is the sole-supplier of the canopy and other parts) and other programmes pick-up.

"We expect to see more defence growth for the company - it would be a good thing to do," Büthker said, noting that it is the anticipated ramp-up to full-rate production of the F-35 over the coming years in particular that will drive this growth.

Besides GKN's F-35 work (it also provides titanium structures, composites, exotic metals, and anti-icing protection for the fifth-generation combat aircraft), the company also has significant technologies on other military platforms such as the Boeing F-15 Eagle, Boeing F/A-18 Hornet, Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor, Eurofighter Typhoon and Saab Gripen combat aircraft (canopies and other items), Airbus Defence and Space A400M airlifter (metals and composites), Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules transport aircraft (engine nacelles), Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopter (aft fuselage), and several Airbus Helicopters rotorcraft (fuel tanks).

Further to these established and publicised programmes Büthker hinted at other more classified projects, saying that GKN was working on "undisclosed platforms" in the US. In 2016 it was revealed that GKN had been contracted to work on the Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider long-range strike bomber; it is this project that Büthker was likely referring to.

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