Victorian company Marand Precision Engineering has delivered its 50th Vertical Tail in support of the F-35 program.
Marand, which has been involved in the F-35 program since 2002, is now an established supplier of F-35 Vertical Tails, with Australian-produced tails on the aircraft of several partner nations, including Australia.
According to Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne, Marand’s achievement, with the support of BAE Systems, demonstrates the strength of Australia’s defence industry in a competitive global market and the importance of international collaboration.
“Through its partnership with BAE Systems, and with the support of its Australian and European supply chain, Marand has delivered its 50 Conventional Take-Off and Landing Vertical Tails all to schedule and without a single customer quality issue,” Minister Pyne said.
“This is an outstanding achievement and typifies the significance of Australian defence industry’s involvement in the global F-35 Program – Australian industry has been collectively awarded over $1 billion in production contracts to date.
“In what was a major milestone for the Australian F-35A Project, an Australian-made Vertical Tail – produced by Marand – was fitted to Australia’s third F-35A aircraft as it neared completion at Lockheed Martin’s production facility in Fort Worth, Texas, in August 2017."
Last year BAE Systems Australia delivered more than 1,700 titanium parts into the F-35 program through Marand. Currently 300 components for the F-35 vertical tail are being produced per month.
In a statement, BAE said it had achieved peak production rate of machining titanium parts for the program at its Edinburgh Parks facility in South Australia.
“We work closely with Marand on this and other projects and congratulate the team on achieving this milestone," BAE Systems Chief Executive Gabby Costigan said. “Our involvement in supplying parts for the next generation F-35 has provided the catalyst for a significant investment that has enabled us to expand a bespoke advanced manufacturing capability.
“It has also provided significant opportunities within our Australian supply chain as we will be supplying parts into this program for the next two decades.
“The expanded machining facility and our highly skilled Australian workforce will help us to secure new opportunities in defence or commercial sectors.”
The global F-35 program will support up to 5000 Australian jobs by 2023.
Australia’s first six JSFs are currently operating at the international Pilot Training Centre at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, US, with four more aircraft expected to be delivered by the end of this year.
Two of Australia’s F-35A aircraft are scheduled to arrive for permanent basing at RAAF Base Williamtown near Newcastle in New South Wales in December.