The third Australian F-35A Joint Strike Fighter has received its Australian made vertical tail as it nears production completion.
Victorian based company Marand is an Australian industry leader in the global F-35 program with an exceptionally strong performance record to date, one of which is the manufacture of vertical tails.
Three of Australia’s full time staff based at the Lockheed Martin F-35 production facility at Fort Worth, Texas, took the opportunity to view Australia’s third F-35A (AU 003) currently on the production line, the first Australian F-35A to receive an Australian-made tail.
Head Joint Strike Fighter, Air Vice-Marshal Leigh Gordon said Australia is performing well in a tough global market.
“Affordability is a top priority for the F-35 program and this means industry has to be at the forefront of innovation and efficiency to keep receiving work,” said Air Vice-Marshal Leigh Gordon.
“Examples like this prove that Australian industry has the capacity and capability to provide overseas customers value and reliability.
“More than 50 Australian companies have shared in more than A$800 million in production contracts to date, with hundreds more Australian companies who are indirectly benefiting through supply chain work.
“Between June 2016 and June 2017 the value of Australian F-35 production contracts overall increased by 24%,” said Air Vice-Marshal Gordon.
Chief Executive of Marand, Mr Rohan Stocker, said the company is providing solutions to complex challenges in the F-35 Program.
“Marand is supporting BAE Systems UK in producing vertical tails for the F-35 with more than 25 tails produced here in Australia so far,” said Mr Stocker.
“This follows wonderful support from BAE Systems in helping Marand build the capability to supply a complex Aerostructure. We have a great relationship and it puts us in a strong position with even more capacity to assist as production volumes increase over the next few years.
“With Australia being involved in the Program early, Australian industry had the opportunity to prepare, compete and excel in this high tech global supply chain.
“Marand has been planning and innovating since 2002 and are now seeing the reward of our efforts,” he said.
Marand also designs and produces F-35 engine lift and removal trailers, produces tooling for F-35 manufacturers and makes full scale F-35 trainers.
“Defence has worked closely with our business to pursue and realise opportunities in the F-35 supply chain,” said Mr Stocker.
Marand are the second source of supply for approximately a third of the global Vertical Tails for the F 35A Convention Take Off and Landing variant. Marand is a subcontractor for BAE Systems in Samlesbury, United Kingdom (BAES UK) who is the other source of supply.
Further opportunities are expected for Australian companies to increase production contract values over the coming years as F-35 production rates double.
Australia’s first two F-35A aircraft are currently operating at the international F-35A Pilot Training Centre at Luke Air Force Base Arizona. Australia’s next eight F-35A are in various stages of production at Lockheed Martin’s production facility in Fort Worth, Texas.