Earns Lockheed Martin F-35 Fighter Production Trust
"The most advanced multi role fighter in the world"
roviding both best and the most
advanced technology, the innovative
Parpas Group, an Italian manufacturer
of machinery tools, won the confidence of
aerospace corporation Lockheed Martin
Parpas Group is the first supplier for
Lockheed Martin to supply 2 High Precision
Milling Machines to machine the front
fuselage of the new F-35 strike fighter in its
manufacturing plant in Fort Worth - Texas.
Thanks to the success of this important
project, Parpas Group subsequently obtained
a new order to supply an additional four new
machines which will be installed in the plant in
Fort Worth over 2016.
Parpas Group, formed by the 2 companies
Parpas S.p.A., located in Cadoneghe (Padova),
and O.M.V. Officine Meccaniche Venete
S.p.A., located in Santa Maria di Sala (Venezia),
is a global supplier of aerospace
machine tools and high technology and
precision systems for complex
mechanical machining in the
aerospace, aircraft engines, automotive
and energy industries; it is a private
company in business since 1951.
Lockheed Martin met Parpas Group
when its team of engineers from Fort
Worth, Texas took part in the IMTS
(Inter national Manufacturing
Technology Show) in Chicago in
September 2008. Following the initial
discussions at IMTS on advanced
machining technologies, the Lockheed
team invited Parpas Group, along with
another nine companies, to participate in a
round table to define the specifications and
capacities that the new advanced technology
machining plant due to be established in Fort
Worth should have. The Lockheed
Martin team were entrusted the task of
integrating a new work centre to build the
front fuselage of the F-35. The team was
diversified and made up of experts in
advanced technology machining, experts
in structures, expects in production
engineering, experts in machinery
maintenance, experts in production and
representatives of the purchasing offices.
With the F-35 being a 5th generation
fighter, multiple unique machine
accuracy requirements were deemed critical
for the forward fuselage production at its Fort
Worth factory. “We asked the potential
machines suppliers to provide technical
feedback that would assist us in defining the
specific requirements for the forward fuselage
PMM machining system to be purchased”,
said Mark Bates, LM Facilities Project
The follow-on bidding competition resulted in
Parpas Group being selected as the project's
prime contractor based on technical and cost
merits. The project based on its technical and
financial merits. The project required Parpas
Group to coordinate and direct companies
coming from four countries to design and
create the entire turn-key system.
The system, called PMM (Precision Milling
Machine), included two high precision
milling machines by Parpas Group, a wash
station, four loading and unloading stations,
called LUSI (Load Unload Skin Install), the
automatic transfer system of the fuselages,
called MTTL (Machine Tool Transfer Line)
and a room with pre-setting equipment and
tool balancing.
Je f f L a n g e v i n , L o ck h e e d M a r t i n
Applications Engineer, representing the
Manufacturing Technology department,
helped integrate the first PMM machines at
the mile long F-35 plant. “Much of the
success of the PMM project was due to the
relationship between the two companies”, he
said. “Parpas Group understood the
importance of the project to the F-35
program. Both companies worked around a
7-hour time difference by establishing a
schedule and process to communicate the
requirements to design, build, and install the
"We chose Parpas Group based on a "best
value" evaluation process, considering
machine design, functionality, reliability and
costs", Langevin stated. "In the end, Parpas
Group scored the highest. They provided
documentation and training to help transition
the shop's personnel into full production
readiness. Each operator was given step-bystep “hands-on” training to be able to run the
equipment. Despite being a new supply to
Lockheed, Parpas Group was handled the
challenge quite well", he added.
The milling machines provided by Parpas
Group to create the plant are part of a range
of movable column milling machines, from
the "Formula" model, that incorporate a series
of important, state-of-the-art and patented
technologies such as the temperature
stabilisation function and the "torque" electric
motors that eliminate the gearboxes and speed
reducers commonly used on other machines,
according to Marc Bates. “The Parpas Group
machines are internally temperature
controlled to increase dimensional stability.
For machines with large work envelopes, even
very small changes resulting from differential
expansion will affect the accuracy at the
cutting tool tip", Bates said. He added, “The
Parpas thermal stability technology greatly
helps to maintain the accuracy required for
manufacturing the F-35 fuselage. Our team
was confident the machines would be the most
cost-effective solution for machining the
complex contours and they have performed
up our expectations".
In January 2016, Lockheed Martin installed
two new, 5 axes machining centres by Parpas
Group, called “Active Five 3000 Linear”, in
Fort Worth. In April 2016, another two
“Diamond 30 Linear” model milling machines
were installed, ready for transition that will
take place in 2017 when production of the F35 will become fully operational.
According to Enrico Maria Pasquetto, Project
Manager, Parpas Group is a private company
with the right combination of family
operation and management. Participation in
the manufacture of part of the F-35 by
supplying our high technology and precision
robotic systems is a reason for pride and
“Working in partnership with a company such
as Lockheed Martin, in a "turnkey" project
with the involvement of companies from 4
different countries whose overall coordination
was our competence, meant for Parpas Group:
Huge responsibility.
Huge excitement and challenge.
Huge opportunities for professional
Parpas Group committed over 30,000 internal
working hours and another 4,000 hours of
external, sub-contracted work.
“Our performance to meet the requirements
of Lockheed Martin meant we earned the
recognition of other companies in America,
allowing us to open doors and penetrate
markets that were once difficult to access”,
Pasquetto said.
“Our slight, initial fear in working with a
leading defence company such as Lockheed
Martin was overcome thanks to the experience
and mutual professionalism that allowed us
to resolve the continuous challenges by
reaching the pre-set objectives. The alchemy
essential to achieving success is based on the
passion of all the members of our team in
each project phase". Pasquetto added
“Participation in Italy in the F-35 program
involves many companies, both directly and
indirectly. The benefits of this participation
for our economy are easily identifiable, given
the numerous jobs created and will be
created given the project is due to last
approximately 20 years”.
Parpas Group success is a prime example of
benefits for Italian companies engaged in
Italian the F-35 Industrial Participation
Program, according to Rob Dooley, LM
Director of F-35 Italy Business Development.
“A medium-sized Italian company competes
for an F-35 production opportunity; it wins the
opportunity, increases its business, employs
more people and delivers to the program. At
the same time, because of their excellent
performance, they are able to compete for
follow-on F-35 work and elevate their public
profile in the international manufacturing
world, which leads to business opportunities
beyond the JSF”.
Parpas Group expertise extend well beyond the
F-35 program (which sees the involvement of
over 28 Italian companies by LM in the F-35
project). The Parpas Group precision
machining technology is also used in other
sectors: aerospace, aircraft engines, automotive
and energy. Parpas Group also offers wide
engineering and project management skills
within these sectors, enabling successful
competition in a broad spectrum of global,
advanced technology manufacturing markets
to date.