Flightstat Datalink of Australia has become the first foreign company competing for work on the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme to benefit from the newly implemented Global Project Authorisation (GPA), which has cleared the way for industry in partner countries to rapidly join the development effort.

"All the hard work we have put in over the last few years trying to get this approved by the US Congress, and get Lockheed Martin and the US State Department to work out the final details so we can implement the agreement, has finally paid off," says Jon Schreiber, JSF director international programmes. The final hurdle was Lockheed Martin and the US government agreeing liability wording after the GPA expires at the end of the development phase.

The first application submitted by Lockheed Martin to allow Flightstat to bid for the F-35's crash-survivable flight recorder was given State Department approval within four days. This compares to an average 56 days for a non-GPA technology assistance agreement (TAA). Another 100 TAAs are expected covering information flow to the eight partner nations.

"GPA will take care of some 70% of the TAAs over the life of the programme," says Schreiber. The remaining 30% are TAA's relating to "contentious" technology transfer issues, such as those related to low-observable material. "What streamlining the process for 70% will really allow us to do is free up scarce resources at the state and defence departments to really concentrate their attention on the remaining critical TAAs," he adds.

JSF is the first programme to use the umbrella GPA structure that covers all NATO members plus Australia and Japan. Israel, which is expected to formally conclude an agreement to join JSF as a security co-operation participant this July, has opened talks with Washington in a bid to be included in the GPA.

Source: Flight International