The Australian F-35A Project, also known as AIR 6000 Phase 2A/2B, is introducing a fifth-generation air combat capability to meet Australia’s air combat needs beyond 2030. Australian industry involvement in F-35 production is expected to exceed $2 billion by 2023.
In addition to acquiring 72 aircraft, the project will also deliver facilities, weapons and new support systems to meet the fifth-generation requirements. The workforce will also need to transition to meet fifth-generation approaches to operating and sustaining a fifth-generation F-35A fleet as part of a global F-35 network.
Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne said, "This funding shows Australia’s defence industry continues to play a vital role in the Royal Australian Air Force’s fifth-generation capability transformation."
Minister Pyne said more than 50 Australian companies have directly shared in more than $1 billion in global F-35 production contracts to date, and small and unique Australian businesses have the opportunity to benefit indirectly through supply chain work.
This initiative will position Australian industry to take advantage of emerging opportunities to supply countermeasures to the burgeoning F-35 market and beyond.
Defence Minister Marise Payne said the RAAF had six F-35A aircraft operating in the US at the international Pilot Training Centre at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, with delivery of four more aircraft planned before the end of the year.
"Chemring and Quickstep have both invested heavily in this initiative, and have also received funding from the United States F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office," Minister Pyne said.
Chemring Australia, a leading pyrotechnic and countermeasures developer, manufacturer and supplier, has announced it will expand its highly advanced Lara facility in Victoria to design, test and manufacture F-35 countermeasures.
Funding via Chemring Australia from the F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office, through a multi-million dollar US government contract, will support engineering and production tooling for the production improvement project. Additionally, a New Air Combat Capability – Industry Support Program (NACC-ISP) grant of $1 million will complement investment being made by Quickstep.
“Further opportunities are expected for Australian companies to increase production contract values over the next four years as F-35 production rates continue to increase,” Minister Pyne said.
Mark Burgess, CEO and managing director of Quickstep, said, "This exciting new project will involve Quickstep applying advanced tooling and process engineering skills to establish world-class advanced manufacturing capabilities for production of F-35 countermeasure flare housings."
Quickstep, the largest independent aerospace-grade advanced composite manufacturer in Australia, will develop and commission new advanced manufacturing technology at its facility in Bankstown, NSW, to supply countermeasure housings to Chemring. Quickstep is already a key supplier into the global F-35 Program, supplying 40 per cent of the materiel to Marand Precision Engineering to produce each F-35 conventional take-off and landing vertical tail.
During the project, Quickstep will commission additional advanced manufacturing processes and technologies at Bankstown, extending its capability to support the F-35 Program and other defence and aerospace projects.
Marand recently delivered its 50th vertical tail to the F-35 Program, all to schedule and with no customer quality issues.