Australian Minister for Defence Materiel and Science Highlights Aussie Contribution to F-35 Program

2015-10-24 Australia is an important member of the F-35 global enterprise.

In an interview done during a visit to Australia in early 2014, Philippe Odouard, the CEO of Quickstep, underscored how he saw the program and the participation of his company in the program.

We see the program as the military equivalent of a civilian aerospace program such as the A320 or the Boeing 737.  It is a program with a long production run and global reach and allows us to engage in a global production engagement.

With the F-35 program, we are supplying key composite elements to Northrop Grumman, which is the major producer of the fuselage, and whose new plant is a state of the art automated manufacturing facility.

A measure of the recognition we receive from Northrop is that the President of Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems came to Australia for the opening of our new facility in Bankstown, Australia.

Indeed, during the opening ceremonies we had a video link back to Los Angeles where the Northrop team participated virtually in the opening which symbolizes the approach of working closely together to deliver reliable parts.

In fact, we compete within the supply chain to provide high quality parts and have been consistently recognized by Northrop to be at the head of the class.

And recently, the Australian Minister for Defence Materiel and Science, Mal Brough underscored the role of BAE Systems Australia working with Northrop Grumman in support of the program.

BAE Systems Australia is the latest of some 30 Australian companies who have won production work for the global F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.

Air Marshall Brown speaking at the Fort Worth based event July 24, 2014. Credit Photo; Lockheed Martin
Air Marshall Brown speaking at the Fort Worth based event July 24, 2014. Credit Photo; Lockheed Martin

Under a long-term agreement with Northrop Grumman Corporation valued at US$15 million, BAE Systems Australia has begun exporting high-end circuit boards and sub-system assemblies for the Joint Strike Fighter.

“The Turnbull Government strongly supports maximising the opportunities for Australian industries to participate in defence acquisition and sustainment,” Minister Brough said.

“The Joint Strike Fighter is currently the largest defence program in the world and Defence has been working closely with Australian industry to promote their participation.”

Minister Brough said Australian industry is already surpassing the expectations of international Joint Strike Fighter manufacturers.

“Already, Australian companies have secured more than AUD$500 million of work, with Defence estimating that Australian industry will win at least US$1.5 billion worth of work in the production phase of the Joint Strike Fighter program,” Minister Brough said.

“I congratulate BAE Systems Australia on achieving this milestone and their commitment to gaining qualification with Northrop Grumman for the Joint Strike Fighter program.”

The Adelaide-based BAE Systems Australia will export parylene–coated circuit boards, which will be used in the Joint Strike Fighter’s Communication, Navigation and Identification (CNI) system, developed by Northrop Grumman. The parylene coating protects the boards from the harsh conditions in the aerospace environment.

The first two Australian F-35A Joint Strike Fighter aircraft are currently flying as part of the pool of aircraft at the International Pilot Training Centre at Luke Air Force Base, Phoenix, Arizona.