Marand, BAE Systems reach new milestones in F-35 JSF program

F-35A Lightning II Picture courtesy of Lockheed Martin.

Victorian-based company Marand Precision Engineering has delivered its 50th Vertical Tail in support of the global F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Program.

The Minister for Defence Industry, Christopher Pyne, said Marand’s achievement, with the support of BAE Systems PLC, also proved the importance of international collaboration.

“Through its partnership with BAE Systems PLC, 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.”

Read: New VIC plant to manufacture F-35 jet tails

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.

“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,” Minister Pyne said.

Minister Pyne said the strength of Australia’s defence industry had made it a significant and crucial contributor to the global F-35 Program, which will support up to 5000 Australian jobs by 2023.

BAE Systems achieves peak production

BAE Systems Australia today announced that it has achieved peak production rate of machining titanium parts for the program at its Edinburgh Parks facility in South Australia.

The ramp up has benefitted the BAE Systems’ Australian supply chain, including ex auto manufacturer Axiom Precision Manufacturing and RUAG Australia, both based in Adelaide.
In 2017, 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.
BAE Systems has invested significantly in its advanced manufacturing facility, with the support of both the Federal and State Governments.
BAE Systems chief executive Gabby Costigan said: “We work closely with Marand on this and other projects and congratulate the team on achieving this milestone.
“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.”
 The Australian Government has approved the acquisition of 72 F-35A JSF aircraft. 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 this year. Final Operating Capability is expected to be declared in December 2023. By this time Australia will have a training squadron and three operational squadrons comprising the full 72 aircraft.