ATK Pioneers the Development of Materials and Processes for Manufacturing Ceramic Matrix Composites (CMC)
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ATK Pioneers the Development of Materials and Processes for Manufacturing Ceramic Matrix Composites (CMC)

MINNEAPOLIS, March 23 /PRNewswire/ --

Materials and Processes Expected to Improve Performance and Life Cycle Costs of Next-Generation Jet Engines

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter First to Benefit from Advanced Material Enhancements

MINNEAPOLIS, March 23 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Alliant Techsystems (NYSE: ATK) has received multiple contract awards from the ManTech Program office of United States Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio to continue development of manufacturing process improvements for ceramic matrix composite (CMC) components. The contracts are valued at nearly $10 million and the awards have spanned 2007 and 2008. ATK is leading teams based on project specific requirements.

ATK expects aircraft engine manufacturers to incorporate CMC materials into next-generation aircraft to reduce both weight and life cycle costs. CMCs withstand the extreme temperatures of the engine exhaust stream better than existing materials and they can last up to three times longer. By using CMCs for engine components the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy can extend the time between engine overhauls, which significantly reduces aircraft maintenance costs.

ATK's Rocket Center, West Virginia facility is leading a team examining improvements to the CMC Machining and the Matrix Densification Processing. The CMC Machining program team, which includes ATK, General Electric CCP and Goodrich High Temperature Composites, is a collaborative program to develop processes for cutting the extremely hard CMC material with lasers, water jets, mills, ultrasonics, and high speed machining. The collaborators include the three CMC manufacturers as well as the engine original equipment manufacturers, General Electric, Rolls Royce and Pratt & Whitney. Additionally, the Matrix Densification Program requires the scale-up of the densification processes to reduce the cycle times and manufacturing costs.

ATK's San Diego facility is leading teams established to improve the Resin and Fabric Optimization (R&FO) and the Production Fabric Coating ManTech Programs. The R&FO program is examining ways to improve the resin process yield while reducing cost and waste stream volume at the resin manufacturer. Additionally, during the R&FO program, utilization of the ceramic fabric will be improved to reduce costs and waste. The Production Fabric Coating program is seeking ways to improve the manufacturing process and reduce the cost of coating ceramic fabrics.

The CMC products that ATK will manufacture are intended to be used initially in the jet engines of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter. ATK CMC materials could also be used in jet engines for other military and commercial aircraft.

ATK currently manufactures the 7-piece upper wing skin, lower wing skins, engine nacelle skins, and the upper wing strap for the F-35 Lightning II using advanced automated fiber placement and hand lay-up techniques at its Clearfield, Utah facility.

The F-35 Lightning II is a supersonic, multi-role, 5th generation stealth fighter. The three F-35 variants are derived from a common design and use the same sustainment infrastructure worldwide to replace at least 13 types of aircraft for 11 nations, making the Lightning II the most cost-effective fighter program in history.

ATK is a premier aerospace and defense company with more than 17,000 employees in 21 states and approximately $4.5 billion in revenue. News and information can be found on the Internet at

Certain information discussed in this press release constitutes forward-looking statements as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Although ATK believes that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions, it can give no assurance that its expectations will be achieved. Forward-looking information is subject to certain risks, trends and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected. Among those factors are: the challenges of developing next-generation ceramic materials, changes in governmental spending, budgetary policies and product sourcing strategies; the company's competitive environment; the terms and timing of awards and contracts; and economic conditions. ATK undertakes no obligation to update any forward-looking statements. For further information on factors that could impact ATK, and statements contained herein, please refer to ATK's most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and any subsequent quarterly reports on Form 10-Q and current reports on Form 8-K filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

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