Australia’s third F-35A Joint Strike Fighter, A35-003, is edging closer to production completion, receiving its Australian-made vertical tail.
The Australian-made vertical tail was produced by Victorian company Marand, one of Australia's strongest contributors to the global F-35 program.
A35-003 is the first Australian JSF to receive and Australian-made vertical tail. AF-73 was the first JSF to receive a Marand vertical tail, with the aircraft taking to the skies on 17 July 2015. Lockheed Martin chief test pilot Alan Norman flew the sortie lasting 84 minutes.
The F-35 vertical tail work, contracted to Marand by BAE Systems, is one of the largest manufacturing projects for the Australian F-35 program, with 722 ship sets planned.
Marand are the second source of supply for approximately a third of the global vertical tails for the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing variant. Marand is a subcontractor for BAE Systems in Samlesbury, England, who is the other source of supply.
Marand also designs and produces F-35 engine lift and removal trailers, produces tooling for F-35 manufacturers and makes full scale F-35 trainers.
Australia's Head Joint Strike Fighter Air Vice-Marshal Leigh Gordon told Defence's Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group that Australia is performing well in a tough global market.
"Affordability is a top priority for the F-35 program and this means industry has to be at the forefront of innovation and efficiency to keep receiving work," said AVM Leigh Gordon.
"Examples like this prove that Australian industry has the capacity and capability to provide overseas customers value and reliability.
"More than 50 Australian companies have shared in more than $800 million in production contracts to date, with hundreds more Australian companies who are indirectly benefiting through supply chain work.
"Between June 2016 and June 2017 the value of Australian F-35 production contracts overall increased by 24 per cent."
Australia’s first two F-35A aircraft are currently operating at the international F-35A Pilot Training Centre at Luke Air Force Base Arizona.
Australia’s next eight F-35A are in various stages of production at Lockheed Martin’s production facility in Fort Worth, Texas.