Quickstep has signed a new six-year contract to manufacture components for Northrop Grumman’s global F-35 program.
The Australian manufacturer of carbon fiber composites was first integrated into Prime’s global supply chain in 2012.
Work is expected to be carried out in Sydney to support Northrop’s manufacture of the center fuselage for all three F-35 variants.
The F-35 is the country’s newest fighter, purchased to replace the RAAF’s F/A-18A/B Classic Hornets, which had been in service since 1985 and were retired at the end of 2021.
In the coming years, Australia will purchase 72 under the US$17 billion AIR 6000 Phase 2A/B program, all of which are expected to be fully operational by 2023.
So far, the fighters have completed more than 15,000 flight hours and have already achieved the first operational skills that make them combat-ready.
The aircraft comes in three variants: the F-35A, purchased from Australia, is a Conventional Takeoff and Landing (CTOL) version; The F-35B is a short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) variant and the final F-35C is the carrier type (CV).
The RAAF took delivery of four more in September, bringing its current fleet to 54.
“We are pleased to have completed this multi-year acquisition with Northrop Grumman,” said Josh Scanlon, Business Leader, Aerostructures, Quickstep Holdings Limited.
“These firm orders secure our Northrop Grumman F-35 order book through 2025 and are a great example of the value Australian industry is delivering to the world’s largest defense aerospace program.”
It comes after Australian Aviation reported last month how Quickstep would make components for Australian firm Carbonix’s Volanti hybrid surveillance drone.
The two companies said the deal is the basis of a partnership that will extend to all of Carbonix’s unmanned aerial vehicles going forward.
Last year, Carbonix raised $6.3 million in eventual seed funding to expand its services into North America, with Quickstep as a $1 million investor.
Volanti is a fixed-wing electric drone that can fly horizontally at high speed, but can take off vertically to perform aerial photography over difficult terrain. It has a flight time of two hours and a payload of 1 kg.
Philip van der Burg, CEO of Carbonix, said: “With state-of-the-art facilities in New South Wales and Victoria, Carbonix is delighted to partner with Quickstep and its highly skilled and enthusiastic staff, who are known for their innovative approach.”