50 years in the aircraft industry
50 years ago, Terma/Grenaa secured the first contracts as a supplier to the aircraft industry
In 1969 Per Udsen Maskinfabrik secured the first contracts to the aviation industry. They were offset contracts related to Denmark’s acquisition of 46 Draken fighters from Saab in Sweden. This was the starting point of 50 years industrial development with remarkable international footprints.
Per Udsen, the founder of the company, was known as highly entrepreneurial. His business activities included among others housing, shipbuilding, and transformer substations, so why not the aviation industry.
The initial contracts included drop tanks and vertical stabilizers for the Draken fighters followed by new contracts for the Viggen fighter and the trainer aircraft T-17, both manufactured by Saab. However, the first significant development came with Denmark’s acquisition in 1976 of the F-16 fighters in the US with General Dynamics (now Lockheed Martin) in Ft. Worth as the main supplier.
Again, the management in Grenaa strived to capture offset contracts and secured contracts on different types of pylons and vertical stabilizers. More than 14,000 pylons for the F-16 have been manufactured in Grenaa. The number of employees went up and peaked in the mid-80’s with 260 employees.
It was also in this period the company gained its first experience with carbon fiber and composites which later on proved to be foresighted. In the early 80’s the company was contracted by Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. in Georgia for production of winglets for the business jets Gulfstream G-lll and G-lV – a production that lasted until only a few years ago after delivery of more than 1,000 shipsets.
In 1983, Per Udsen passed away. The “aircraft factory” continued but through the 1990’s the commercial development stagnated. States of the market were unfavorable, and the markets were going through major changes.
At the turn of the year 1998 / 99 Terma took ownership of the activities. By the end of the 1990’s, Terma was gradually involved in the F-35 Lightning ll Joint Strike Fighter program. The fighter was one of the candidates to replace the F-16s as Denmark’s future fighter aircraft.
In 2004, the first development contract for gun pods for the F-35 was signed between General Dynamics and Terma. Afterwards contracts followed on composite and aluminum parts for aircraft. Finally, in 2016 the decision was announced to purchasing the F-35. However, at this point of time Terma and especially the facility in Grenaa was deeply involved in production for the F-35.
Despite the international financial crisis and an unsettled fighter selection, Terma’s management decided to invest heavily in advanced production technology within carbon fiber and composite. At present, the F-35 production makes up for about 85 % of the activities in Terma/Grenaa and recently new long-term contracts have been secured.
Now, on the 50-year anniversary for the first Draken production Terma/Grenaa employs 450 employees – a number expected to grow to 550 when the production of F-35 reaches full production within few years.