OEM Report: Aerospace
Monday | 05 April, 2010 | 3:29 am

Serious sky

By John Loos

April 2010- The AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopter is a serious piece of military equipment.

According to, the twin-engine, four-rotor attack helicopter features the Longbow millimeter wave fire control radar and the Longbow air-to-surface Hellfire missile. It also has an automatic 30-millimeter M230 chain gun beneath its fuselage, which allows the craft to carry up to 1,200 rounds of ammunition. On top of this, it can be equipped with air-to-air missiles like the Stinger and AIM-9 Sidewinder, as well as the advanced precision-kill weapon system family of guided and unguided 70-millimeter rockets.

In other words, the Apache Longbow means business.

Recently, friction management and power transmission products manufacturer The Timken Co., Canton, Ohio, received an order to produce an emergency supply of left-hand engine nose gearboxes for aftermarket use on the U.S. Army's fleet Apache Longbows. Timken is the only aftermarket manufacturer qualified to supply all five Apache gearboxes used onboard.

According to a company press release, the left- and right-hand nose gearboxes are manufactured at Timken's Manchester, Conn., facility and are used to power the main rotor and all onboard systems by transmitting power from the twin engines to the main transmission.

Along with these crucial components, Timken also produces gearboxes used within the Apache's intermediate and tail-rotor positions, as well as the main transmission.

To produce these components on time and to specification, Timken looked to its past aerospace applications.

"Most important is that we ensure we have in place the talent and technology to meet the highest standards, especially considering the requirements for quality and record-keeping on a program such as this," says Gary Dilk, manager of defense programs for Timken Aerospace Transmissions. "Once we ensure we have achieved the required quality approvals, we build up our supply chain to support these stringent performance requirements, from raw material to machining and special processes through packaging, delivery and so on."

Mighty material
According to Pankaj Patel, general manger of manufacturing for Timken Aerospace Transmissions, Timken's gearboxes consist of materials such as low- and medium-alloy carbon steel, magnesium and aluminum. They undergo a variety of machining processes, including hobbing, shaping, broaching, CNC turning, five-axis milling, grinding, gear teeth generating and dynamic balancing.

The gearboxes also undergo several specialized processes and finishes, such as hardening, black oxide and Nital etch, and paint, says Patel.

"We have proven in Timken's aerospace business that we have the technical capabilities and the resources required to deliver a highly engineered, reliable product to the U.S. military," says Dilk. "We've demonstrated our support for the AH-64 Apache program in the past, with a track record of achieving what was needed within the time frame required. That, and the performance of our products, have earned Timken the Army's trust."

Along with specialized gearboxes, Timken supplies bearings for other portions of the Apache. Its products can be found in the GE model T700 engines, the auxiliary power unit and in the infrared sensor system.

"The Apache is a mission-critical system, and on-time delivery of replacement parts is paramount to the military meeting its operations time lines and objectives," said J. Ron Menning, president of Timken's aerospace and defense business segment, in a press release. "The Army needs a supplier to meet a delivery imperative and has placed trust in Timken. We plan to exceed their expectations." MM

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