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 Post subject: More F-35 fighter work tipped
PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2006 12:55 am 

Joined: Sat Jan 14, 2006 4:13 pm
Posts: 1672
Location: South Australia
More F-35 fighter work tipped
Steve Creedy, Aviation writer
January 24, 2006
AUSTRALIAN industry can expect to win significantly more than the $100 million in work it has received so far from the massive F-35 Joint Strike Fighter project, a major contractor in the US program said yesterday.

Northrop Grumman JSF deputy project manager Randy Secor said the quality and pricing of work coming out of Australia in the first phase of the program made it highly competitive against firms in the US and other parts of the world.

"If I look at how the (Australian) industry's performed today, we expect it to continue to grow in the future," Mr Secor said.

Northrop Grumman is a major partner with lead contractor Lockheed Martin on the $US256billion ($342 billion) JSF project to supply the next generation of fighters to defence forces in countries such as the US, Britain and Australia.

Australia plans to buy up to 100 conventional take-off and landing versions of the aircraft at an estimated cost of $16 billion to replace its ageing F-111s and F/A 18s. However, Defence officials warned this month that Canberra could buy just 50 if the aircraft becomes prohibitively expensive as partner countries cut their orders.

Up to 15 Australian companies are estimated to have already won JSF-based contracts and Mr Secor said he expected the level of Australian participation to grow as the program ramped up.

He said the JSF program differed from "traditional" US programs in that it did not offer countries a set dollar value of work but looked at the most competitive bids.

This meant the opportunities were "almost endless".

He pointed to companies such as Melbourne-based GKN Aerospace, which did 20 per cent of the engineering drawings for the first fighter and now employed 160 engineers on the project using state-of-the-art technology. Another company likely to gain from the project was Melbourne's Hawker de Havilland, which was making composite parts for the new aircraft.

Despite reports about cost blowouts and delays on the project, Mr Secor said he was comfortable the JSF program was on schedule. He agreed costs were a challenge but believed the partners had a good handle on affordability.

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