2013-06-21 According to ABC news (Australia) in a news broadcast on June 20, 2013, the Chairman of Quickstep Technologies argues that a key way ahead for Australian defense industry is in using the technology developed from past government programs and accessing global supply chains.
TONY EASTLEY: We’re broadcasting today from a hangar at Bankstown airport in Sydney where they make parts for the F35 joint strike fighter jet.
The area we’re broadcasting from this morning on the AM manufacturing tour has seen some changes over the years. It’s here in a big old hangar at Bankstown airport that de Havilland assembled fighter bombers for the RAAF in World War II. The mosquitoes were composite aircraft built largely of wood and glue.
ARCHIVAL NEWREEL: In Australia we are now building the fastest aircraft in the world – out of wood.
TONY EASTLEY: Today it’s again composites – but it’s carbon fibre. And the sections of aircraft I can see around the hangar are destined for the world’s most sophisticated military jet – the F35 joint strike fighter.
Chairman of Quickstep Technologies, Tony Quick:
Tony Quick, when we look at something like this, the amount of money that goes into a project, how important is government encouragement for this type of manufacturing?
TONY QUICK: Oh, absolutely critical. I mean the total investment on this site is of the order of $16 million. But as part of that, through the JSF (joint strike fighter) program, we have long term contracts of about $700 million from Northrop Grumman and we would only be involved in that as a result of Australia joining up to the JSF program.
TONY EASTLEY: So Australia doesn’t sign up for an F35, none of this occurs?
TONY QUICK: Correct. The only companies that can win work of the JSF program are those from countries that have signed up to JSF.
TONY EASTLEY: How important is it for Australian governmental involvement outside of this type of high tech manufacturing then when it comes to stimulating manufacturing in Australia, if I can put a broader hat on it?
TONY QUICK: There is a limited amount of things that the Australian Government can do to stimulate manufacturing. I mean they can educate, they can stimulate technology through things like the R&D, the R&D tax concessions.
Look, where you’re actually looking at something that governments are buyers of, it actually makes a lot of difference. And in the early days of JSF, going around the US with somebody in a blue suit saying you need to pay attention to these people and decide whether they can offer you a competitive solution because I want to buy 100 of your aircraft, that was a very powerful part of our sales campaign.
TONY EASTLEY: So on the one hand you have people saying you’ve got to go global to succeed in manufacturing, but then again in many ways you’re benefiting from a local contact here that is the Australian Government buying F35s. Is it a contradiction?
TONY QUICK: No, I don’t think it is. And I think it’s part of what the Australian Government has recognised that the future of the defence industry is in global supply chains. There is no way that Australia is going to build its own airplanes in the future. It’s just not cost effective. What is cost effective is us actually using the technology that we developed from past government involvement programs and actually accessing those into the global supply chains.
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