AbstractA third-generation Al-Li alloy AA2198 has been successfully welded by bobbin tool friction stir welding. The stirred zone, displaying an hourglass shape, consists of recrystallized Al grains and precipitates remaining in solution. Joint line remnants have been found in all etched welds. Symmetrical hardness profiles have been obtained in the thickness direction, which indicates that the joints have homogenous through-thickness mechanical properties. As the rotational speed increases, the grain size of the stirred zone increases, whereas the density of strengthening particles decreases; the joint line remnants become compressed remarkably in the shoulder-dominated zone while less changes occur in the probe-dominated zone; the softest region shrinks and shifts outward, the average hardness of the stirred zone increases and the hardness profile along the cross section of the joint changes from the U-shaped to W-shaped. The tensile strength of the joint initially increases with rotational speed and then decreases with the maximal strength efficiency reaching 80%; three fracture modes have been observed and cracking initiates at the joint line remnant propagating towards the heat-affected zone, and finally to the border between the thermal-mechanically affected zone and stirred zone.