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THE GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAIN
AND AUSTRALIAN DEFENCE INDUSTRY
hile Lockheed Martin’s legacy connections with
Australia stretch back to the time of the Second World
War when the Australian defence industry was in its
prime, the issue of the industry’s involvement in global
supply chains has been a relatively recent development.
Prior to the 1990s, the major international defence prime contractors
responded to the Australian Government’s requirements with Military
Off-the-Shelf (MOTS) equipment with a proviso for various forms of off-set
It was not until the US Government created the requirement for a Joint
Strike Fighter program, that flowed from the development of the then
revolutionary, stealthy F-22 Raptor fighter-bomber, that a new system of
manufacturing was created.
In the mid 1990s the US Government pitted Lockheed Martin and the
Boeing Aircraft Company in a competition to develop a stealthy single-
engine fighter that would be common to their three services – the US Air
Force, the US Navy and the US Marine Corps – in three variants of the same
aircraft, a conventional landing and take-off version (CTOL), an aircraft
carrier version (CV ) and a short take-off and vertical landing version
After an exhaustive period of experimental flight testing, the Lockheed
Martin F-35 was selected for the Joint Strike Fighter program, bringing in a
new era in international aerospace manufacturing.
The JSF program was created by Lockheed Martin, as the prime
contractor, with two major partners in Northrop Grumman and BAE
Systems to build the aircraft, with Pratt & Whitney and GE-Rolls Royce
selected to develop a completely inter-changeable engine.
But here all legacy methods of aircraft construction changed.
Breaking away from the accepted process, Lockheed Martin and
its partners created an international program involving the UK, the
Netherlands, Canada, Australia, Turkey, Italy,
Norway and Sweden.
Each country would make a financial commitment to the program
relative to their expected level of the number of aircraft they would buy and
in return their defence industries would bid and compete on a best value
for money basis for the production of parts and systems for the aircraft.
At this point the international partner countries defence industries were
reviewed in detail by the prime contractors for the aircraft and the engines
to determine their capabilities to assume some portion of sub-assembly/
assembly work on the F-35 program.
A detailed international production plan was then established that
matched both the partner’s abilities and the program’s budget capability.
Off-set was now a thing of the past and the Global Supply Chain became
Since Australia made its initial commitment to the program some 24
companies have successfully bid competitively for work on the program
and in the System Demonstration and Development (SDD) phase of the
Lockheed Martin JSFs
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