Manufacturer of ejection seats Martin-Baker has opened an Australian field office at Williamtown as part of its commitment to supporting the F-35 in the Asia Pacific region.
The growth of the global F-35 fleet and the deployment of US Marine Corps F-35Bs to Iwakuni in Japan have dictated the need for a third location capable of supporting the aircraft. Until now two Martin Baker locations in Denham in the UK and Johnstown in the US have met the demand for ejection seat support.
Martin Baker spokesperson Andrew Martin said this had been part of the plan since the first day of the program with the company having realised it would need an extra capability for Maintenance, Repair, Overhaul and Upgrade of not just the US16E seat fitted to JSF, but all the support equipment associated with it.
“Australia, and more specifically Williamtown, is an ideal location as it will be a major hub in the JSF network and Australia’s main operating base for JSF,” he said.
Martin-Baker F-35 IPT Lead Steve Roberts said being able to dispatch a Martin-Baker Australia field service engineer to anywhere in the Asia-Pacific from Australia will significantly reduce the response time in the region. “They will be able to carry out maintenance and training for our customers at very short notice –clearly the RAAF will be a major beneficiary of this investment by Martin-Baker, he added.”
Martin Baker Australia managing director Andrew Eden said although the F-35 capability was the driving force behind the timing, Williamtown also represented a large number of other platforms and customers including Classic Hornet, Hawk, PC-9, Discovery Air Alpha Jets and would also host the PC-21 in the near future.
Martin-Baker Australia recently secured a contract with Pilatus for the MRO of all RAAF PC-21 ejection seats and canopies commencing in 2018. The PC-21 represents the largest single fleet of ejection seats in Australia and this capability is being established at RAAF Base Pearce.
“Between Pearce and Williamtown, Martin-Baker Australia will have coast-to-coast coverage and the capability to perform maintenance on any of its products at both locations in the near future,” Eden said.