Sydney-based carbon fibre composites manufacturer Quickstep has announced the production of its 10,000th component for the global F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, marking a major milestone for the company and Australia’s defence industry involvement in the multibillion-dollar program.
Quickstep manufactures more than 50 individual components and assemblies for Northrop Grumman, Marand Precision Engineering and BAE Systems, and each F-35 Lightning II aircraft currently in production incorporates approximately $440,000 of content built at its facility at Bankstown Aerodrome in western Sydney.
This provides direct employment for almost 170 highly skilled operations staff, engineers and support personnel across the business and many more within its domestic supply chain.
Current F-35 contracts achieved full-rate production over the last 12 months and 10,000 parts represents approximately $250 million of revenue over the last seven years. Based on forecast aircraft production volumes, and at current rates of supply, Quickstep is just 20 per cent of the way through this important build program.
Commenting on this milestone Quickstep CEO Mark Burgess said, “We are extremely proud of the trust and confidence placed in us by leading global aerospace OEM, the US DoD and the Australian DoD. We have built a reputation for excellent delivery, quality and cost performance and look forward to securing more production opportunities on F-35 and other advanced aerospace platforms.”
Minister for Defence, Linda Reynolds CSC said the success of Quickstep is reflective of Australia’s participation in the global F-35 Program demonstrates the Morrison Government’s commitment to backing Australian industry and supporting Australian jobs.
“The F-35’s are the most advanced, multi-role stealth fighter in the world which will deliver next generation capability benefits for our Air Force. Australian companies have already shared in $2.7 billion in contracts for this Program. This is a testament to this Government’s commitment to maximising opportunities for Australian industry,” Minister Reynolds said.
Minister Reynolds added, “Australia’s early involvement in the F-35 Program offered local industry outstanding opportunities to participate in the Program from the outset, which has led to this incredible achievement earlier than anticipated.
“I thank Prime Contractors, Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney, for their commitment to providing Industrial Participation Program opportunities to F-35 Partner Nations on a best-value basis.”
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said the increase in value was due to the outstanding opportunities in the Program for Australian companies to compete for work.
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“Once again Australian industry continues to perform beyond expectations as part of the global F-35 Program. This excellent performance has led to the increased employment of Australian workers and Australian industry, which is set to grow as the F-35 capability matures worldwide,” Minister Reynolds explained.
Quickstep Holdings is Australia’s leading independent carbon fibre composites manufacturer, operating from state-of-the-art aerospace manufacturing facilities at Bankstown Airport in Sydney, NSW, a manufacturing and R&D/process development centre in Geelong, Victoria, and a representative office in Houston, Texas. The group employs more than 260 people in Australia and internationally.
The Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is billed as a catalyst for the fifth-generation revolution, changing the face and capability of the Royal Australian Air Force and the wider Australian Defence Force.
For the RAAF, the F-35A's combination of full-spectrum low-observable stealth coatings and materials, advanced radar-dispersing shaping, network-centric sensor and communications suites – combined with a lethal strike capability – means the aircraft will be the ultimate force-multiplying, air-combat platform.
Over the coming years, Australia will purchase 72 of the advanced fifth-generation fighter aircraft as part of the $17 billion AIR 6000 Phase 2A/B program – which is aimed at replacing the ageing F/A-18A/B Classic Hornets that have been in service with the RAAF since 1985.