As Australia’s third F-35A Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) A35-003 makes its way along the production line, Lockheed Martin is projecting the Australian defence industry will reap the benefits over the next 30 years.
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics director of F-35 international business development Steve Over has provided an update on the F-35 program and has delivered positive news for Australian industry.
"The contracts that have been awarded to Australian contracts to date are well through to lot 10 and in the coming years, those numbers are going to grow significantly, so when you think about lot 10 as worth 2 per cent of the number of airplanes that we expect to build ... certainly good opportunities for another 30 or 40 years' worth of production," said Over.
So far, it is estimated that the contracted value of the project's Australian industry partners exceeds $800 million, with 15 companies reaping the benefits. Currently, Victoria is leading the way with a total of six companies contributing to the project – Marand, Lovitt, Cablex, AW Bell, RUAG and BAE Systems Australia, which has offices in both Victoria and SA.
Australia is also on track to benefit from its sustainment facilities, with Australia set to sustain the fleets of other nations in the Pacific area, delivering huge economic benefits.
"BAE Australia and TAE [Aerospace] have been declared by the joint program office to be airframe and engine suppliers ... for not just Australia but for the global enterprise so as other airforces and airplanes in the Pacific need servicing, you should expect those airplanes to spend some time with BAE Australia and TAE," Over explained.
Australia has ordered 72 F-35As, with potential for a fourth Australian squadron that would bring the number to 100.
The first two JSF's are expected to arrive in Australia in 2018 and enter service in 2020.