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Titanium accounts for a significant portion of the structural weight of many aircraft. Its high strength-to-weight ratio, high strength at high temperatures, corrosion resistance, and thermal stability make it ideal for airframe structures. However, in recent years a combination of multiple factors has caused a major spike in titanium prices that is expected to significantly influence the acquisition costs of future aircraft. This monograph examines the titanium industrial base, titanium production technology, and the factors underlying price fluctuations in the titanium market to assess their implications for the production cost of future airframes. The authors also suggest how the Department of Defense might mitigate the economic risks involved in the titanium market and reduce the cost of raw materials used in military airframes. In contrast with existing studies, which mainly focus on aircraft demand cycles in analyzing titanium price fluctuations, the monograph highlights the role of supply-side drivers, China's impact on the titanium market through cross-market substitution effect, the significance of industrial demand, and the increase in spot market transactions.

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The research described in this report was sponsored by the United States Air Force and conducted by RAND Project AIR FORCE.

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