Value Added Composites

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15th May 2017

Value Added Composites case study

For over 25 years Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group has been supporting Lockheed Martin on the C-130J Super Hercules programme through manufacturing pre-kitted flight deck trim panels.

When an OEM outsources the manufacture of bespoke parts, made from composite materials and which require advanced manufacturing techniques, the supplier must perform well, demonstrate innovation and constantly find ways to add value to the relationship. Accordingly, when the same supplier is used for over 25 years, and has contracts in place for years to come, the OEM has clearly partnered with the right company.

In a relationship that dates back to the early 1990s, Marshall Advanced Composites, part of Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group, manufactures and supplies flight deck trim panels of varying sizes and complexity for the Hercules C-130J. The trim is supplied in kits of either 14 or 18 panels, depending on Lockheed Martin’s requirements, as the centre console can either be fitted as a single structure or as five smaller intricate panels.

The C-130J’s flight deck trim panels vary in size from roughly 30 x 30cm to about 0.5 x 1.5m, and most have complex contours. They are fabricated from phenolic glass fibre prepreg and have a Nomex sandwich core, which has a honeycomb structure and results in strong, lightweight panels.

The manufacturing process comprises several complex stages but they can be summarised as multiple layers of pre-preg materials which, are carefully placed in the mould tool, the mould is then bagged and a vacuum is applied. Curing is then done in an autoclave, after which the panel is removed from its mould, trimmed, prepared and painted in readiness for final electrical assembly; all resulting in an impressive quality that is tested and proven. In addition, some of the C-130J trim panels are fitted with lights, speakers, wiring looms and clips. Some of these items have long lead-times and Marshall Advanced Composites is responsible for managing the complete supply chain.

Recently Lockheed Martin and Marshall Advanced Composites agreed a long-term contract which recognised the performance and delivery in supply – this enables Lockheed Martin to continue to deliver its C-130J Super Hercules to its customers. To have been trusted for such a long time on this key programme demonstrates the ability of Advanced Composites to deliver on time, to specification and to cost.

The breadth and depth of capability of Marshall Advanced Composites in the aerospace sector is well established and proven, as is its capability in marine, naval and transport sectors.

The knowledge, skills and experience gained over 50 years enables Marshall Advanced Composites to support you to deliver.

Our Capabilities


  • Requirements capture
  • Design engineering
  • Structural analysis
  • Process engineering (inc PFMEA)


  • Wet layup
  • Vacuum assisted moulding
  • Pre-preg
  • Resin transfer moulding
  • Filament winding
  • Clean room capability

Post-processing & Quality Assurance

  • Oven cure (x5 of varying sizes)
  • Autoclave (x2, with the largest 17m long)
  • Mechanical and electrical integration
  • CNC finishing
  • Paint facility
  • Test and certification