CPI Aero catches Lightning, again, with new F-35 deal

Open and shut case: Edgewood-based CPI Aerostructures will provide mechanical assemblies that control the cockpit canopies on F-35 Lightning II fighter planes.

The world’s most advanced warplane will get a lift from a longtime Long Island defense contractor.

Edgewood-based CPI Aerostructures Inc. has been awarded a $15.8 million contract by the Lockheed Martin Co. to manufacture assemblies that open and close cockpit canopies on all three variants of the F-35 Lightning II, a fifth-generation jet that combines advanced stealth capabilities with fighter-plane speed and agility.

The multi-year deal, announced Monday by CPI Aero, is with Lockheed Martin’s Texas-based Aeronautics Division. According to the terms of the contract, the Long Island manufacturer will provide four different drive-shaft assemblies for use in the cockpit-canopy actuation systems of the F-35A (the plane’s conventional takeoff and landing variant), the F-35B (the short takeoff/vertical landing variant) and the F-35C (the variant designed for aircraft carriers).

Deliveries are slated to begin during the third quarter of FY2018 and continue through December 2022, according to CPI Aero.

Douglas McCrosson: Big win.

The deal marks the Edgewood manufacturer’s second contract with Lockheed Martin for structural assemblies on the F-35 line. In May, CPI Aero delivered its first batch of lock assemblies for the arresting gear door of the F-35A CTOL variant, under a multi-year $10.6 million contract awarded in 2015.

It’s a good time to be in the F-35 Lightning II business: The U.S. Department of Defense plans to acquire more than 2,400 of the single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole fighters by 2034, with 11 other countries also planning to build up F-35 air fleets, according to CPI Aero.

President and CEO Douglas McCrosson noted an “important win” for CPI Aero involving “our nation’s largest military aircraft program.”

“And (the deal) further strengthens our ties to Lockheed, the largest defense prime contractor in the world,” McCrosson said Monday. “Coming on the heels of our first F-35 assembly delivery, I am confident that Lockheed Martin views us as having attributes that define successful defense contracting: quality, performance and affordability.”

The new deal also adds to an impressive slate of 2017 contracts for the Edgewood subcontractor, which this year has added new deals with Texas-based Bell Helicopter, the U.S. Air Force and North Carolina-based UTC Aerospace Systems, among others.