Australia's minister for defence materiel and science, Greg Combet, has called on Lockheed Martin to give Australian companies more work in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme, while ensuring that programme costs remain on track.

"Australia, like other JSF partner countries, is seeking an affordable solution, but also wants a good outcome for local industry, given the large investment we are making," says Combet.

"To date, 28 Australian companies have won work on the JSF programme, valued at more than A$200 million [$185 million]," Combet told a JSF industry conference in Melbourne, Victoria on 3 May.

"This work has primarily been in the initial design and production of test aircraft."

However, Combet says that "while there has been active engagement with Australian industry in many areas of the programme, progress in some areas has been slower than expected. Further work is required here, and I stressed these issues to Lockheed Martin when I visited Fort Worth last year."

Lockheed "must search deep and hard among all partner countries, including Australia, to ensure compatibility and affordability goals are met" on the F-35, he adds.

 F-35A AF-2 debut - LM
© Lockheed Martin

To assist Australian companies with research and development work required to win more involvement on the programme, the Australian government is providing A$8.5 million in additional funding.

"While we are yet to allocate these funds, they will be devoted to relatively small investments that have a large pay-off for Australian industry," Combet says.

The government is already assisting some Australian companies, such as Brisbane-based Ferra Engineering, which has signed two memoranda of understanding with Lockheed to manufacture components for the JSF.

The government is working with Ferra Engineering, CAST CRC and Lockheed on the development of laser-assisted machining of titanium parts, he adds.

Other examples of work that Australia has won includes Goodrich Customer Services in Sydney, which has secured a contract to make the uplock actuators for the JSF's weapons bay doors.

Perth-based Quickstep has also signed a memorandum of understanding to manufacture lower side skins, maintenance access panels, fuel tank covers, lower skin and in-board weapons bay doors for the JSF.

Source: Flight International