Recently, Lockheed Martin negotiators have been landing at Václav Havel Airport more often than ever before. For one of the world's largest arms manufacturers, they have already negotiated the most expensive order in the history of the Czech army, which is buying 24 "Efpětatrícítěk" for 150 billion crowns, but their work does not end there. The contract also includes "throwing a rope" to the Czech industry. And he understands him.

The Czech consortium PBS Velká Bíteš, One3D and HiLASE can also be included among the prestigious group of suppliers involved in the production of the F-35. At the end of May, it concluded an industrial cooperation agreement with Lockheed, now awaiting final approval by the United States government. The project should get the green light at the turn of August and September.

"Working with Lockheed can make us extremely visible on a global scale. At the same time, this project is not only important for us, but also for the Czech aviation industry. It brings enormous know-how, business and credit to the republic at a time when states are massively increasing investments in their own defense," says PBS Group Executive Director Pavel Čechal. It is PBS, which develops and manufactures engines or components for drones or missiles with a flat flight path, that covers the consortium and conducts communication with Lockheed.

The newly concluded agreement is that the Czech companies will develop a new technology to produce the perforated grid located at the end of the exhaust of the F-35 fuel system. The grid must withstand extreme conditions. The billion-dollar plane can tear through the sky at a speed of more than Mach 1.6, i.e. 530 meters per second or 1,909 kilometers per hour, and reach an overload of up to nine G.

"The complexity of the project is certainly beyond what we normally do. The requirements for grid quality are unusually high. Of course, it must not expand even under extraordinary load or the influence of extreme temperatures. Lockheed will assess whether we can fit within the tolerance at the thousandth of a millimeter within five years," explains Čechal.

The domestic group believes that it will succeed, which is why it is already investing tens of millions of dollars in the purchase of machines intended for final production, i.e. in the purchase of vacuum furnaces or machine tools, for example.

Who supplies the existing grid and how it is manufactured is a Lockheed secret. On the contrary, his clearly stated request is to find a new way to make the grid. "Giants of this type want to motivate suppliers to invent new production technologies. They can be cheaper, faster and possibly usable in other parts of the chain as well," adds Čechal.

In the consortium, PBS fulfills the role of a leader and a manufacturing company with rich experience in the aerospace industry. One3D is one of the leaders in the field of industrial 3D printing. The HiLASE laboratories from Dolní Břežany, which fall under the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, are to contribute new laser production technology.

Lockheed has already sold over seven hundred F-35 aircraft to the armies of European states alone, and is producing thousands more for customers from other regions and for the needs of the US. If the Czech consortium succeeds, it will also mass-produce the grid in Bíteš and expects sales in the order of thousands of pieces. Some will be designated as spare parts.

If such an assumption were to be fulfilled, the consortium could receive revenues in the order of hundreds of millions of crowns per year from the order for Lockheed. For example, for PBS, a traditional Czech company from the aviation industry, this would mean a substantial financial injection and an increase in turnover by tens of percent. If the grouping were to succeed, the door would be opened to other orders not only for Lockheed.