DMTC chief executive Mark Hodge has called for a sustained push to ensure Australian businesses are involved with key maintenance services as part of the latest batch of Joint Strike Fighter aircraft.
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Hodge told Defence Connect it would be difficult to pinpoint exactly how much work the Australian defence sector could expect to be carried out locally for the JSF rollout, compared with overseas.
“It's a very hard thing and I wouldn't say I'd be that comfortable trying to put a number on it,” he said. “I can tell you what we'll do if we don't continue to push, and that will be the work that our industry has won to date, which has been very hard won, that share will shrink.
“I would be reasonably bullish about the amount of work that our industry could expect to get out of JSF, but it won't come our way unless we're prepared to continue to invest and continue to drive ourselves up that capability curve.”
He noted there were distinct opportunities for those industry participants who have won specific contracts, such as Marand, Ferra “and back to the days of GKN”.
“But of course, [in the case of] Quickstep and others who've done extraordinarily well, there's an opportunity for those organisations to continue to win work and to grow their share,” Hodge added. “There's always an opportunity to win work away from other companies – from other countries rather – in the global supply chain.”
However, Hodge did note that this scenario would prove to be “a harder activity because you're, again, out-competing, trying to win work away from other countries”.
The DMTC CEO emphasised that there would be clearly defined opportunities for the local industry to play a key role as the JSF platform is launched into service in Australia.
“It's not exactly clear how that will work because there'll be a lot of ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) technologies and a lot of complexities that I think are still being worked through,” Hodge continued. “But I think, again going back, we have shown that our industry can understand and can perform extraordinarily well in a global context.”