Mike Packer is vice president of Manufacturing Strategy and Technical Integration for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. He is responsible for modernization initiates, production engineering and technology, industrial engineering and workforce development across all company programs at seven production facilities. He previously served as director of F-22 productions, director of Joint Strike Fighter manufacturing and key positions for the company. Packer is an active member of Society of Manufacturing Engineers, Institute of Industrial Engineers and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Mike Packer, vice president of Manufacturing Strategies and Processes, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co.

Mike Packer, vice president of Manufacturing Strategies and Processes, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co.

What role do composites play in Lockheed Martin products?

Lockheed Martin produces advanced military aircraft, including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the F-22 Raptor, which have a large structural content composed of composite materials. Composites are widely used in high performance aircraft because of their strength and weight properties.

What are current challenges regarding the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft?

The F-35 will eventually be produced at a high rate of about one aircraft delivery each business day to meet the needs of our U.S. and allied military customers. The aircraft has extremely stringent quality requirements because of the tight material fit requirements for production of a low observable or stealth aircraft of this type. We are also being challenged by our customers to reach aggressive affordability goals both in the production and field maintenance, or sustainment, of the aircraft. These are some of the principal challenges we are facing and addressing with new manufacturing processes and technologies.

How will Lockheed implement composites usage in 2011 and beyond?

The near term goals are to develop sources for composite materials, including international participants as well as second sources in the United States. In addition we continue to aggressively attack quality and cost for all components of the F-35. In the long term, we continue to invest in R&D to expand the use of composites where we can identify product performance advantages.

How do composites need to change to keep up with industry requirements?

We will continue to look for ways to produce components more affordable and to simplify assembly processes. For future programs, material development goals have always been improved; performance including stiffness, damage tolerance, lower cost processing and assembly technologies. There continue to be developments in the industry including nano-materials and advanced forming technologies, which may buy their way into future and current programs.