Hexcel is a leader in the space and defense market as a supplier of advanced composites used in helicopters, space and military aircraft and is currently qualified to supply materials to a broad range of more than 100 space and defense programs.
Our advanced composite materials have a long and rich history in the space and defense markets. In fact, Hexcel’s first contract was awarded in 1948 by the Air Material Command at Wright-Paterson Air Force Base for research and development materials, methods and equipment for making honeycomb for radomes on military aircraft.
Hexcel materials make possible such defense programs as the F-35 (Joint Strike Fighter or JSF), Sikorsky CH-53K, V-22 (Osprey) tilt rotor aircraft, UH-60M Blackhawk, AH-64 Apache, A400M military transport, European Fighter Aircraft (Typhoon), F/A-18E/F (Hornet), Rafale fighter jet, and NH90.
When it comes to jet fighters, our advanced composites can found in the radar transparent radome, foreplane canard wings, fuselage panel sections, leading edge devices, fin fairings, wing skins and ribs, fin tip, rudder fin and flying control surfaces. Hexcel is currently the sole-source provider of carbon fiber for the F-35.
Helicopters benefit greatly from the application of Hexcel’s composites, achieving cleaner and safer rotorcraft. You will find our materials on the rotor blades, rotor hub, glazing bars, seats and interiors, engine/body fairings/access panels, fuselage, main and cargo doors, horizontal stabilizers, and fuselage panels. Composite rotor blades are stiffer (less deflection) allowing for higher performance and heavier payloads.
One of the newest advanced helicopters with Hexcel’s advanced composites on board is the Sikorsky CH-53K. Our materials are in the main and tail rotor blades; blade spar; blade tip and skin; fuselage; tailcone/aft transition; tail rotor pylon; sponsons, doors and engine nacelle. The all-new CH-53K is designed to be intelligent, reliable, low maintenance and survivable in the most difficult conditions. Hexcel’s materials add strength and durability while decreasing weight on these advanced heavy lift helicopters.
Hexcel has a long history of providing the critical materials for space exploration. When considering the amount of fuel it requires to projectile each pound of payload into space, the lighter the better. Hexcel’s lightweighting solutions have been a part of every one of NASA’s lunar and Mars landers and orbiters – as well as components on shuttles and rockets. We currently supply materials not only to NASA, but to commercial space companies as well.
One of Hexcel’s latest technologies, HexPEKK™ 3D printed parts, which are made from PEKK thermoplastic with a carbon fiber fill, is used on more than 600 parts made for the Boeing CST-100 Starliner (crew space transportation spacecraft). This revolutionary material and printing process allow Hexcel to make complex components that compare to those made of cast and machined aluminum, but with half the weight. This innovative technology along with Hexcel’s honeycomb, carbon fiber and prepregs, form many of the structural parts on today’s spacecraft.
As space travel and exploration continue, Hexcel’s advanced composite materials provide more and more key materials and components to make what once was science fiction into reality.