Advanced Composite Structures

High-Quality Composite Manufacturing for Commercial and Military Aircraft, Launch Vehicles and Naval Systems

Northrop Grumman's industry leadership in high-strength, lightweight composite materials makes us the partner of choice to design, develop and fabricate technically complex composite structures and components for commercial and military aircraft, rockets and naval applications. We are a recognized leader in automating composite processes to provide affordable composite solutions. We also provide a variety of RF testing and engineering services.

A large commercial airplane flying in a blue sky

Commercial Aircraft Structures

From wing products to fuselage parts to engine components, Northrop Grumman's lightweight, high-strength composite materials are reducing the weight, improving the performance and lowering the lifecycle cost of commercial aircraft.

Our products include: fuselage stringers and frames for the Airbus A350 XWB, composite frames for the Boeing 787, composite aft cases for the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines and engine bypass ducts.

A military fighter plane in flight

Military Aircraft Structures

Northrop Grumman's industry leadership in high-strength, lightweight composite materials makes it the partner of choice to develop and fabricate technically complex components for military aircraft. Key products include:

  • Stabilators, pivot shafts and inlet bypass screens for the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor
  • Upper and lower wing skins, straps, engine nacelles, covers and inlet ducts for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II
  • Low-observable antennas for the Lockheed Martin F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter, the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit stealth bomber and other tactical aircraft
  • Solid-state radar and communications radomes for the Northrop Grumman Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle and the MESA radar system on the Boeing 737 Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft
  • Counterbalance assemblies for the Boeing C-17 Globemaster II aircraft
  • Wing skin stringers for the Airbus A400M
  • Precision optical benches for Northrop Grumman's high-energy laser used in the Airborne Laser (ABL) missile defense system on board a modified Boeing 747 aircraft

A man stands beneath a large black composite structure

Launch Structures

Northrop Grumman has produced more four- and five-meter diameter launch-vehicle structures than any other company. More than 700 large composite structures have been manufactured for Ariane V, Antares, Pegasus, Atlas V, Delta II and Delta IV.

In addition to the large composite launch system structures, Northrop Grumman is producing protections materials for launch systems. These materials protect against multiple environments to include cold and hot X-ray, direct effects lightning, thermal, rain and dust erosion, impact, etc.

Our protection material solutions are industry leading, offering high performance, low cost and lightweight. Our facility in Iuka, Mississippi, offers deep-water access for ease of shipping. The facility has multiple state-of-the-art fiber-placement and automated tape-laying machines and 11 autoclaves, and we can handle both large and small launch-vehicle structures up to 5.4 meters in diameter by 25 meters in length.

Northrop Grumman has extensive design, analysis, integration and nondestructive testing experience. This capability, coupled with our extensive fiber-placement experience, ensures the ultimate in lightweight, high-quality composite structures. Focused on performance, reduced cost and lead time, our highly automated production processes and research produce the highest quality and best value for the industry.

Radomes

  • Frequency selective surfaces
  • Large, load carrying structures
  • Precision phase capability
  • Ceramic radomes — including FSS
  • Advanced manufacturing methods
  • RF transparent ice prevention circuitry
  • Ballistic protection radomes
  • Largest producer of FSS in U.S.
  • Large single piece circuitry

The interior of an RF testing facility

RF Testing and IR Calibration Test Systems

Northrop Grumman Aerospace Structures maintains two state-of-the-art compact ranges, one in Beavercreek, Ohio, near Wright Patterson AFB, and a second in Rancho Bernardo, California, near San Diego.

1365 Compact Range
Beavercreek, OH

Northrop Grumman's Beavercreek range is located near Wright Patterson AFB. The range team strives to provide high-quality antenna and RCS measurements. The facility is currently certified by the National RCS Facilities Certification Program.

The compact range accommodates RCS or antenna/radome measurements on articles up to 16-ft wide/long, 12-ft high, and weighing 3,000 pounds. Normal operating frequencies available cover 200 MHz to 50 GHz.

Targets are mounted/dismounted and reconfigured using the Personnel Work Platform (PWP). The PWP's deck and crane sections traverse vertically and independently. Any target beyond the capacity of the PWP is positioned with a forklift. This is in conjunction with the vertical lift of the pylon, which enables it to be lowered to 5 ft off the floor. The PWP also brings in its own light, numerous tools, fixtures and a 20 GHz analyzer.

Compact Range
Rancho Bernardo, CA

Northrop Grumman's Rancho Bernardo Compact Range, located near San Diego, California, is dedicated to world-class, advanced composite aerospace structures and components, as well as radio frequency and low observable technologies. The range maintains a trained staff of engineers, technicians and support personnel who are familiar with measurement systems, target support systems, model/fixture design and fabrication, and data acquisition/processing systems. The facility is currently certified by the National RCS Facilities Certification Program.

The compact range accommodates RCS or antenna/radome measurements on articles up to 40-ft wide/long, 28-ft high, and weighing 10,000 pounds. Normal operating frequencies available cover 300 MHz to18 GHz.

The chamber is spanned by a radio-controlled bridge crane to lift items from the staging area to the pylon/positioner. When not in use, the bridge crane is stored inside an absorber covered soffit. A telescopic hydraulic man lift installed near the base of the pylon is used to access the article during mounting, modifications, and dismounting. Each high bay area has secure roll-up doors that are interlocked to open only when access to the staging area is required for target/antenna mounting.

Infrared Calibration Systems
Logan, UT

Northrop Grumman's Logan, Utah, facility has unique experience designing and manufacturing a multitude of infrared calibration systems that have been deployed around the country for the sole purpose of radiometric calibration of high fidelity IR sensors.

At the core of this capability is the ability to develop end-to-end testing solutions for our customers. The principles have been designing and building cryogenically cooled thermal vacuum chambers, cryogenic optical systems, IR blackbody sources, radiometers and spectrometers since the 1990s.

In the development of these systems, the Logan operation has a variety of subsystems that can be utilized as standalone entities. These include items such as Cryogenic motors, IR Blackbodies, various cryogenically capable motion stages, target and filter wheels, vacuum compatible camera systems and several other similar devices that are traditionally utilized in a space simulation chamber.

Northrop Grumman produces several types of infrared calibration systems for today's state-of-the-art infrared sensors and seekers. These range from test systems that simulate multiple high fidelity radiometric scenes against a simulated exo-atmospheric background to single point source targets used to calibrate a missile seeker.

These low background calibration systems use projection optics and motion control systems required to operate at cryogenic vacuum temperatures.

Northrop Grumman offers these specialty devices at the component level such as cryogenic vacuum stepper or servo motors, cryogenic motion stages, cryogenic blackbodies, and cryogenic target and filter wheels.

For more details and design, manufacturing and programming of systems like these for your cryogenic and IR sensor calibration needs from Northrop Grumman in Logan, Utah, contact Dave Higham at Dave.Higham@ngc.com.