Fayetteville, Arkansas – The U.S. Air Force has awarded a follow-on contract of $4.1 million to Cree, a wide bandgap semiconductor electronics company. This new funding will enable the qualification of a high-performance power electronic module developed for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in the company’s Fayetteville, Arkansas facilities.
“Cree is on the forefront of a number of exciting advancements, including the effort to modernize our aircraft for the U.S. Air Force. The company’s contributions to an increase in high-tech domestic manufacturing in Northwest Arkansas help drive economic growth in our state and create more well-paying jobs for Arkansans. These are the jobs of the future. It’s exciting to see them being created right in our backyard,” U.S. Sen. John Boozman said.
Sen. Boozman visited the Cree campus to discuss the benefits of this project to Arkansas and to tour Cree’s Fayetteville facilities. Cree began operating in Arkansas in July 2015 with the acquisition of APEI (Arkansas Power Electronics International).
“We’re excited to get this high-performance module commercially qualified through this program,” said John Palmour, chief technology officer for Cree’s Power and RF Division, “not only for Department of Defense requirements, but also for a wide range of industrial applications.”
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is one of the first major programs implementing the Air Force’s new “More Electric” and “All Electric” aircraft design philosophy, which mandates the replacement of costly and bulky mechanical hydraulic aircraft flight control systems with lighter weight, high-reliability, low-maintenance electric motors and drives.
The high power densities and high voltages required to operate mechanical flight systems using electric motors are driving a transition to high-density silicon carbide (SiC) power electronic systems that can operate at higher efficiencies, higher voltages, higher power densities, and higher temperatures in comparison with conventional silicon electronics. This contract will fund rigorous qualification testing of the developed power modules to broaden integration platforms and commercial viability of the product.