We recently shipped a sizable batch of fuselage supports for the Northrop T-38 Talon.
Obviously the fuselage supports are a very critical component of this trainer aircraft. The complexity of the parts presented several manufacturing challenges.
These fuselage supports started off as a solid block of 7000 series aluminum alloy. It was determined in a pre-flight meeting that the best way to machine these would be in a 4-axis machining center.
One of the main challenges for parts like this is minimizing part distortion that results from internal stresses in the raw 7075 aluminum material. As material is removed, internal stresses begin to release which can lead to severe distortions in the part if the stresses are not managed. Since we have extensive experience with machining this material we anticipated how the part would react and planned our machining operations accordingly. The final parts are well within all required specifications and were immediately approved by inspectors for the Defense Logistics Agency.
To insure safe arrival we individually packaged the high-value parts inside custom made cardboard boxes and then nested the boxes inside a wooden crate.
A few tidbits about the T-38…
The Northrop T-38 Talon is a two-seat, twin-engine supersonic jet trainer. It was the world’s first supersonic trainer and is also the most produced. The T-38 remains in service as of 2013 in air forces throughout the world.
The United States Air Force (USAF) is on of the largest operators of the T-38. The T-38 is also used by NASA and the US Naval Test Pilot School is the primary US Navy operator. Pilots of other NATO nations fly the T-38 in joint training programs with USAF pilots.
As of 2012, the T-38 has been in service for over 50 years with the USAF.