June 21, 2012 – Bankstown, Australia (Techreleased) –Northrop Grumman Corporation’s largest F-35 Australian supplier—Quickstep Technologies Pty Ltd.—opened a new facility in Bankstown, Australia. Quickstep supplies composite skins and subassemblies for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter center fuselage that is produced by Northrop Grumman. Today’s facility opening proves Quickstep’s ability to serve as a supplier of aerospace-grade composite parts, and as a source of skilled engineering and manufacturing expertise.
Quickstep has already commenced production on the first phase of F-35 parts. It completed the qualification process for the manufacture of more complex parts in April 2012 and signed a long-term agreement in May 2012 to supply these components until 2020.
“Northrop Grumman is honored to be part of this opening ceremony,” said Gary Ervin, corporate vice president and president of Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. “This new facility is just one example of the investments Quickstep has made that will benefit the F-35 program. It’s a testament to the strong industrial partnership Northrop Grumman has with Quickstep in producing the F-35 center fuselage, and with the governments of Australia and New South Wales in establishing this critical composite manufacturing capability in Australia.”
With the opening of its new facility, Quickstep offers the scale and resources necessary to undertake large-scale, long-term aerospace manufacturing contracts along with access to a qualified and skilled labor pool. This will benefit the execution of Quickstep’s F-35 work, as well as their recently won C-130J flaps production contract from Lockheed Martin.
In 2002, the commonwealth of Australia joined the F-35 program. It plans to purchase 100 F-35s during 2014-2023. Australia, one of the eight international partners on the F-35 program, has made significant contributions to the design and development phases of the program. The first two Royal Australian Air Force F-35 center fuselages will go into manufacturing flow in low-rate initial production Lot 6, with the first air ducts scheduled to be jig-loaded this September.
Northrop Grumman is committed to supporting the F-35 industrial team, the Australian industry and local Australian companies. The company executed a Global Supply Chain (GSC) Deed with the government of Australia in June 2011 to work together to identify opportunities for Australian industry to compete within the company’s global supply chain and those of its major supply partners. The program is now under way, with more than 50 Australian companies attending Northrop Grumman GSC presentations earlier this year.
As a principal member of the Lockheed Martin-led F-35 industry team, Northrop Grumman performs a significant share of the work required to develop and produce the aircraft. In addition to producing the F-35 center fuselage, Northrop Grumman designed and produces the aircraft’s radar and other key avionics including electro-optical and communications subsystems; develops mission systems and mission-planning software; leads the team’s development of pilot and maintenance training system courseware; and manages the team’s use, support and maintenance of low-observable technologies. To date, the company has delivered every center fuselage on time and continues to meet its cost and schedule commitments. In 2011, the company delivered 22 center fuselages, and it will make its 100th delivery in December 2012.