Home' Asia Pacific Defence Reporter : APDR April 2010 Contents F-35
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Australian variant of the NH90
ever far from controversy, the Joint Strike Fighter
prog ramme is facing pressures both from within
Lockheed Martin, in terms of the delayed testing
schedule, and those exerted on defence budgets by
the global financial crisis. With the Joint Strike Fighter
Technology Conference to be held in Melbourne in May, APDR
reviews the value of the programme to Australian industry so far and
examines emerging technologies and opportunities to expand the
share of work as production ramps up.
The Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter project is arguably the
most ambitious, and certainly the most expensive, fighter programme
in the history of the world. Around three thousand aircraft will be
produced in three major variants; Conventional Take Off & Landing
(CTOL), Carrier Variant (CV ), and Vertical/Short Take Off & Landing
(VSTOL). In the next decade it will enter service with all three US
ser vices and eight international customers, including Australia.
Likewise, industrial participation in the p rog ramme is very
complex and the traditional ‘offset’ arrangements have been replaced
by a multi-national industrial partnership, where work is allocated
on a competitive basis. Like the aircraft itself, this arrangement has
attracted a great deal of criticism and all of the partner nations have
at some point expressed dissatisfaction with their share of the work.
Criticism notwithstanding , Australian comp anies have won
between $175 million and $200 million worth of work in the System
Desig n and Devel opment (SDD) phase of the programme with,
according to Lockheed Martin, the potential for up to $12 billion of
work over the projected 30 year production life of the aircraft.
The rationale behind the industrial work-share plan is that the F-35
Joint Project Office ( JPO) awards production contracts to the partner
nations on a best value basis, with an overall share commensurate
with the level of participation. In theory this drives down the cost of
manufacturing each JSF and the benefit is shared by all partners.
Australian Industry Participation
JSF AA1 test flight.
Credit: Lockheed Martin
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