By Peter La Franchi in London

Australian contracts for the system development and demonstration phase of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme have reached only $82 million, despite around 100 projects being offered to the country so far.

The head of Australia’s Project Air 6000 new air combat capability project office, Air Cdre John Harvey, acknowledges the contract values are lower than expected. “We had hoped to have a higher level of contracts at this stage of the project,” he told Australian senate defence budget hearings last week. There are “approximately 20 Australian companies on contract in the JSF programme. Work to date is approximately $82 million and there are promises of additional work into the low-rate initial production phase,” he said.

Harvey said Australia is “working closely with Lockheed Martin to ensure we have a robust industry participation plan in place before the end of the year”, a prerequisite for Australia’s participation in the production, sustainment and follow-on development (PSFD) phase. The national security committee of the Australian Cabinet is scheduled to approve PFSD participation in November and give initial funding approval for contract negotiations with Lockheed for the Australian JSF acquisition programme.

Source: Flight International