MELBOURNE - The first Australian-manufactured components for the first Australian F-35A Joint Strike Fighter were handed over to Lockheed Martin Aug. 24 in Melbourne.
Lovitt Technologies Australia, a local precision engineering and machining company, delivered the components, machined longeron assemblies for the F-35A’s keel structure, in a ceremony attended by Minister of Defence Materiel Jason Clare, Head of the New Air Combat Capability Program for the Defence Materiel Organisation Air Vice Marshal Kym Osley and EVP/GM F-35 program Tom Burbage.
“This is an important day for Australia, because it’s the first Australian part on the first Australian JSF,” Clare said at the ceremony. “We’re now taking the next big step, and that is not just making parts for U.S. Air Force or U.S. Navy, or aircraft for other countries, but we’re starting to make parts for our own fighter aircraft. It leaves as a part but comes back as one of the most advanced fighter planes in the world, one which will be the spearhead protecting Australia for many years to come.”
Lovitt delivered its first JSF components to Lockheed Martin in 2006 and has since won work valued at $8.5 million on the project.
It also manufactures components for Boeing commercial and military aircraft such as the Super Hornet, Chinook and, most recently, P-8 and V-22 programs.
Altogether, 30 Australian companies have won more than $300 million worth of JSF work to date, and the NACC Program Office estimates this could extrapolate to between $1.5 and $3 billion over the life of JSF production.
Australia has a requirement for up to 100 F-35As to replace its F/A-18A/B Hornets and F-18F Super Hornets, but only two aircraft are contracted at the present time, to be built in LRIP Batch 6. Another 12 aircraft have been approved but were recently deferred, and a decision on two other tranches will be made in either 2013 or 2014.