WICHITA, KS—Spirit AeroSystems and Wichita State University’s National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) have officially opened the National Defense Prototype Center (NDPC) here to develop new capabilities for defense and space applications.

The 125,000-square-foot facility includes manufacturing space and laboratories with processing and characterization capabilities, including high-temperature testing, furnaces for fabricating and processing materials, multi-method non-destructive inspection, robotic automated fiber placement technology and a large autoclave.

According to Spirit, the NDPC is the first of its kind with a focus on high-temperature materials that can withstand temperatures of 2,500 to 5,000 F for applications such as hypersonic missiles. The research center opening comes soon after Kansas earned its designation as one of 11 Defense Manufacturing Communities by the USA’s Department of Defense.

“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," notes John Tomblin, Wichita State’s senior vice president for industry and defense programs and an NIAR executive. “This leads to reliable and safe products that enable the industry to go further, push faster, and break through current design limitations."