The evolution of the titanium industry as we know it today was a function of military aircraft applications. Today military titanium has also been designed into ballistic applications on a global basis.
The US Department of Defense early on recognized titanium as a material that would satisfy the requirements necessary for aircraft applications. The use of titanium in military applications began in the 1950’s when titanium was first designed into the Douglas X-3 Stiletto.
In it’s infancy, titanium accounted for approximately 9% of the weight of a military aircraft, the Phantom F-4 specifically. As the titanium industry has evolved and the benefits of titanium’s material characteristics were successfully tested over time, titanium represented a higher percentage of the weight of a military aircraft. The F-22 aircraft was comprised of more that 39% titanium. The aircraft program that utilized the highest percentage of titanium, although no longer in production, was the SR-71 which was 90% titanium.