The US Department of Defense (DoD) has recently taken a significant step towards enhancing the production of turbine engine components for its fleet of fighter jets through a $1.31-million agreement with Selmet, a leading metallic solutions provider.

The partnership underscores the importance of securing a resilient supply chain for critical defense components, aligning with the objectives of the Defense Production Act (DPA) Title III—a program that targets investment that create, maintain, protect, expand, or restore domestic industrial base capabilities that are critical to the national defense.

Manufacturing Key Components for Top Fighter Jets

Selmet Incorporated, headquartered in Albany, Oregon, will play a pivotal role in manufacturing specialty titanium castings that form integral components of several advanced fighter jet models, including the F-15 Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon, F-22 Raptor, and F-35 Lightning II aircraft propulsion systems. These components are crucial for ensuring the optimal performance and reliability of the engines powering these cutting-edge aircraft.

F-22 Raptor
F-22 Raptor (Image source: DVIDS)

The company has established itself as a strategic supplier for Raytheon Technologies segment Pratt & Whitney, contributing to the production of F100, F135, and F119 turbine engine components. This proven track record underscores Selmet’s expertise in the field of aerospace manufacturing and its ability to fulfill the exacting quality and performance requisites of the defense sector.

Bolstering American Defense Resiliency

The collaboration between the DoD and Selmet is in direct alignment with the objectives of the DPA Title III program, which seeks to minimize disruptions within the engine supply chain that could impact the operational readiness of essential combat fleets. By investing in the production of critical components, the DoD aims to ensure that the fighter jets relied upon by military personnel remain fully operational and capable of meeting national defense requirements.

The allocation of funds for this endeavor originated from the $40.1-billion Additional Ukraine Supplemental Appropriations Act, enacted as a response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, emphasizing the critical role of a robust industrial foundation in navigating periods of geopolitical instability and turmoil.

F-16 fighter jet engine
F-16 fighter jet engine (Image source: DVIDS)

A side note: Since the war in Ukraine began earlier last year, the US has sent more than $75 billion in overall assistance, including humanitarian, financial, and military support, as cited from the latest report of the Council on Foreign Relations. About 61 percent of that aid has been allocated to bolster Kyiv’s 17-month fighting effort against Russian aggression, from security assistance to weapons and equipment to training and intelligence. With the intensity of fighting rising at the battlefront, military aid packages from Kyiv’s Western allies will only undoubtedly come pouring in. In fact, the Pentagon has again sent an additional $200 million in weapons and ammunition to Ukraine, according to two US officials, as reported by AP News on Thursday.

A Holistic Approach to National Security

Dr. Laura Taylor-Kale, US Defense Industrial Base Policy Assistant Secretary, emphasized the significance of achieving resiliency across all aspects of the defense industrial base. While the manufacturing of final products is crucial, upstream supporting activities, such as the production of specialized components, are equally vital to maintaining the operational availability of critical platforms.

“Resiliency at all points in our defense industrial base is required to ensure the operational availability of the platforms on which our warfighters depend,” said Dr. Laura Taylor-Kale. “Upstream supporting activities are just as important as the manufacturing of final products.”

This perspective underscores the DoD’s commitment to addressing vulnerabilities at every stage of the supply chain, reinforcing the importance of a comprehensive and integrated approach to national security.

Strengthening Hypersonics and Strategic Systems Supply Chain

In addition to the partnership with Selmet, the DoD has taken steps to bolster the supply chain for hypersonic and strategic systems, a key priority identified by the Biden Administration. In April, three awards were granted to prominent companies – General Electric, Carbon-Carbon Advanced Technologies (C-CAT), and Northrop Grumman – to enhance the supply chain for equipment associated with hypersonic and strategic system development.

The efforts to strengthen the supply chain in this critical area reflect the US government’s commitment to advancing hypersonic technology, which is increasingly recognized as a cornerstone of the American national security strategy.

Strengthening National Defense through Strategic Collaborations

In conclusion, the collaboration represents a significant investment in ensuring the long-term operational readiness of its fighter jet fleet. By partnering with a proven industry leader, the DoD is taking concrete steps to enhance the production of essential turbine engine components, thereby contributing to the resilience of the defense industrial base.

Moreover, the partnership highlights the broader strategic approach of the US government in addressing vulnerabilities within crucial supply chains, including those related to hypersonic and strategic systems. As the global security landscape continues to evolve, these initiatives underscore the importance of maintaining technological and manufacturing superiority to safeguard national security interests.