Spirit AeroSystems Opens National Defense Prototype Center


WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Spirit AeroSystems held a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday for the National Defense Prototype Center, a joint project with Wichita State University’s National Institute for Aviation Research.

This joint project will allow WSU and Spirit to develop, prototype, test and industrialize high-temperature materials to support the defense, aviation and space industries.

“NIAR has been a tremendous partner in the development of the National Defense Prototype Center and enabling Wichita as a center for defense growth,” Duane Hawkins, Spirit AeroSystems executive vice president, said. ”The NDPC provides a secure space for high-temperature materials testing, as well as development, prototyping and industrialization capabilities to support Spirit’s growth strategy, targeting $1 billion of defense revenue by the mid-2020s.”

The research center comes soon after Kansas earned its designation as one of 11 defense manufacturing communities by the Department of Defense.

“The National Defense Prototype Center will improve research and development efforts of advanced materials and place Wichita at the center of future defense and space programs,” Senator Jerry Moran said. “These programs, especially the advancement of hypersonic missiles, will rely on National Defense Prototype Center as the United States competes with foreign powers to defend our homeland.”

The facility encompasses more than 125,000 square feet of manufacturing and lab space with processing and characterization capabilities, including high-temperature testing and furnaces for fabricating and processing materials.

“The more knowledge that can be generated and disseminated about high-temperature materials, the more these materials can be used, optimized, and designed for specific objectives,” NIAR Executive Director John Tomblin said. “This leads to reliable and safe products that enable the industry to go further, push faster, and breakthrough current design limitations. Not only is this a first for the state of Kansas, but for the nation in terms of testing capacity at these temperatures.”

The research center is the first of its kind, with the ability to attract new aviation, defense, and space programs with a focus on high-temperature materials that can withstand temperatures of 2,500-5,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

To learn more about the National Defense Prototype Center, click here.

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