The headlines have been hard to miss. Canada has agreed to purchase 88 of the new Joint Strike Fighters. The Canadian government first got involved with the F-35 some 26 years ago. One of eight countries to sign on with the US to form the Joint Strike Force, Canada has invested over $600 Million over the years in project development. The $19 Billion order will start with 16 fighters. That figure also includes initial weaponry, aircraft maintenance, and infrastructure. It is the largest investment in the Royal Canadian Air Force in thirty years.
The F-35’s Significance to Canada
Canada’s early involvement in the project secured the ability for Canadian defence machining companies to bid on production contracts as part of the program. Ben Machine has been involved with the development of the F-35’s remarkable technological advancements since 2001.
The F-35 brings unprecedented abilities to our air defences. Pilots will have improved stealth, reconnaissance, surveillance, and intel-gathering abilities. It’s all designed to maximize the pilot’s effectiveness and survivability in the field. The consortium of nations also ensures that we’ll have maximum interoperability with our closest allies. The initial 16 fighters will be delivered over the next five years. Plans are for the F-35s to be phased in to replace our existing CF-18 Hornets entirely by 2032.
Ben Machine’s Role in the F-35
As part of the Joint Industry Task Force, Ben Machine is one of the Canadian companies sharing billions of dollars in awarded contracts. Our work has been focused on power and control modules for the primary and secondary air control surfaces of the aircraft. These features are obviously vital for the aircraft and present unique challenges for a craft designed to be stealthy.
Ben Machine has had to develop in-house procedures and designs through research, development and experimentation to assemble and support several of the components in the completed module design. We own the intellectual property associated with this complex and precise process. It involves both defence CNC machining of components and advanced dip-brazing. Dip-brazing allows us to ensure solid metal joints between fabricated and machined components without thermal distortion due to uneven heating. The rigidity, airtightness, and durability against shock and vibration were critical to the successful design.
It’s rare that a project makes the news where Ben Machine is involved. Most of our work is behind the scenes. We’re proud of the work we do and the revenue we bring to our local economy. The Joint Strike Fighter is expected to bring $425 million annually into Canada’s economy and provide over 3300 jobs. The contracts with Ben Machine and other Canadian companies mean we are not only building components for the F-35s coming here but for the thousands of F-35s being deployed worldwide in coming years. Canadian companies have already secured over $3 Billion in contracts related to this project.
We’ve invested decades in advancing the state of defence machining and manufacturing to make our part in this project a success. We have learned new techniques and established new methods that have benefitted other customers who had nothing to do with the F-35, just because that work made us better CNC machinists and fabricators. That’s the kind of windfall benefit you can’t measure, but we’re very pleased we can provide it to all of our customers.
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