Government export finance guarantees Quickstep JSF composites success

Perth’s Quickstep Holdings Limited has added another notch to its belt of defence manufacturing success, securing government finance to export parts to the US for Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) defence vehicle project.

[Image right: Quickstep managing director, Philippe Odouard.]

Quickstep, which is based in Western Australia’s North Coogee, secured a ‘finance guarantee’ from the government’s Export Finance & Insurance Corporation (EFIC), a body dedicated to helping Australian businesses find success overseas.

Quickstep is about to commence manufacture of $700 million worth of composites for the international JSF program; the firm nabbed a 20-year ‘long term agreement’ contract with principal F-35 contractor Northrop Grumman back in February.

A new facility is currently being prepared to host the manufacturing project, which includes making ‘out of autoclave’ composite doors and panels using the patented Quickstep Process, at the former Boeing factory at the Bankstown airport in NSW.

Success guaranteed

EFIC will supply an Export Finance Guarantee under its National Interest Account for the export project, ensuring Quickstep’s goods arrive at the JSF assembly factory in XXX.

The export finance deal joins successful negotiations with ANZ bank to sign a loan facility agreement to help fund Quickstep’s new Bankstown manufacturing plant fit-out.

ANZ has pledged $10 million to help the Perth company buy capital equipment and intellectual property required to manufacture the composite parts.

The loan facility includes $3.3 million in capitalised interest, and is charged over Quickstep’s assets.

Aussie success story

According to Quickstep managing director, Philippe Odouard, the support from both ANZ and EFIC is testament to the importance the government places on the manufacturing firm’s new project.

The emerging composites manufacturing industry is a classic case study supporting Australian engineering capabilities, showing other firms that it is possible to secure multi-million-dollar, global defence contracts.  

“The ANZ facility enabled by EFIC comes at an exciting time for Quickstep, with the company on track to deliver on the first purchase order for F-35 Group 1 parts and the re-development of our new Bankstown facility in New South Wales well underway,” Odouard said.

“The Federal Government’s support assists Quickstep to supply some of the most advanced composite components in the world to one of the most advanced aircraft in the world. 

“This loan provides Quickstep with the required financial strength to contribute to the JSF global supply chain as a competitive supplier and will assist in establishing the long term viability of a high technology composites industry in Australia.”

Quickstep is on-track to deliver the first of its composite parts in 2012. The company is now working on securing contracts for the manufacture of ‘Group 2’ and ‘Group 3’ parts for the JSF project.

Ahead of schedule

Just last month, Quickstep announced it had shipped the first production F-35 Lightning II part – which is part of the $700 million, 20-year contract – ahead of schedule to the Unites States.

The part, called the Destruct Test Article (DTA), was manufactured in Quickstep’s Perth manufacturing facility, in lieu of the Bankstown, NSW factory’s readiness.

“Throughout the past 12 months, we have continued to make excellent progress, and I am pleased to say we have so far met all of our milestones on or ahead of schedule,” said Odouard.

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