Fayetteville tech firm wins $3.5 million Air Force fighter jet contract

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter


The U.S. Air Force has awarded a $3.5 million contract to a Fayetteville technology firm to develop a power module for a fighter jet.

Arkansas Power Electronics International will build a high-temperature silicon carbide power module for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, University of Arkansas officials announced Wednesday.

The UA-affiliated firm specializes in advanced, high-performance electronics for a variety of customers and applications, including the defense, aerospace and hybrid/electric vehicle markets.

The module will be based on APEI’s unique wide band-gap material, a semiconductor that withstands harsh environments and enables high performance applications. The technology will be applied to a motor drive on the F-35 that allows the pilot to control the aircraft’s flight altitude, ability to turn, speed, stability and other vital features.

The Joint Strike Fighter, currently in development, is part of 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 with electric motors are driving a transition to high-density silicon carbide power electronic systems; these systems are capable of operating at higher efficiencies, higher voltages, higher power densities and higher temperatures when compared to conventional silicon electronics.

APEI frequently collaborates with faculty at the University of Arkansas and a majority of its 49 employees are graduates of the university.