Australia’s New Air Combat Capability-Industry Support Program (NACC-ISP) has awarded new grants to three local companies to help build their capacity to support production and sustainment of the global F-35 fleet.
The NACC-ISP was established in 2010 to support Australian industry and research organisations involved in the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program. The purpose of the program is to enable Australian companies and research organisations to support the development of new or improved capability to win work in the production, sustainment and follow-on development phases of the F-35 JSF program. Till date, the program has issued 45 grants worth more than $21 million since the program's inception nine years ago.
"It is important Defence helps to enhance Australian industry’s ability to win work in production, sustainment and follow-on development phases of the F-35 Program," Director General Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Air Commodore Damien Keddie said. Director Industry Kirrilee McNeill, of JSF Branch, said the most recent grants were awarded to one South Australian-based company and two Victorian companies.
"South Australian-based Axiom Precision Engineering (Axiom) has been awarded almost $810,000 to purchase a five-axis, 3m vertical CNC machine and to train staff in its operation," McNeill said.
"Thanks to the grant we are able to purchase a new CNC machine without having to reduce our investment in apprentices and training for the future," Axiom general manager Craig Maynard said.
"The CNC machine will enable us to win additional F-35 work, increasing the volume of machining performed in Australia. The five-axis machine has capacity to produce components up to 3m long, resulting in greater efficiency, helping to reduce manufacturing costs and increasing sovereign capability for Australian defence manufacturing. Axiom will be able to easily absorb any increase in rate production on the F-35 vertical tail program to which we currently supply,” Maynard said.
Victorian-based Moog Australia (Moog) has been awarded $250,000 to prepare for the sustainment phase of the F-35 Global Support Solution.
Moog managing director Bryan O’Connor said the company had been named as the Asia-Pacific’s preferred overhaul and upgrade facility for the F-35 electrohydrostatic actuator, leading edge flap actuation system and wingfold actuation system. "This grant will be used to conduct a capability gap analysis and develop a draft Depot Maintenance Activation Plan to address the identified gaps and achieve 'depot source of repair' status to provide component maintenance, repair and overhaul services for the F-35 Program in the Asia-Pacific region.”
Victorian-based A.W. Bell has been awarded $250,000 to invest at its Dandenong South casting and production facility, to improve competitiveness and reduce risk for the F-35 global supply chain.
A.W. Bell CEO Sam Bell said the grant would improve the company's competitiveness by allowing it to continue investment in the latest technologies and upskilling of staff and in doing so, seize new opportunities both locally and internationally. The grant would be used primarily to invest in new machining technology and staff upskilling. This would further enhance A.W. Bell's capability in high-precision machining of metal parts up to one-metre-cubed in size.
So far, more than 50 local companies have shared in almost $1.8 billion worth of F-35 production contracts.