Quickstep lines up major Joint Strike Fighter contract

The MOU signed by Australian advanced materials company Quickstep and global aerospace organisations Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman paves the way for the companies to work together to finalise a long term agreement (LTA) for Quickstep to supply 19 325 composite doors and access panels for the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF of F-35 JSF).

These parts will all be exported to the USA for incorporation into the JSF aircraft globally.

Quickstep hopes to complete the LTA by March 2010.

Quickstep may supply up to 21 different components under the LTA, including lower side skins, maintenance access panels, F2 fuel tank cover, lower skin and in-board weapons bay doors.

The potential manufacturing contract under the LTA is planned to last 20-30 years and could generate annual turnover of $50 million by 2015.

“The potential value of the LTA to Quickstep and to Australia cannot be overstated,” says Quickstep Managing Director Philippe Odouard. “As well as generating hundreds of millions of dollars in export revenue, the LTA could lead to world-class training opportunities in the highly advanced industry of aerospace composites. Australia is ideally placed to carve itself a much bigger slice of the global defence market. The LTA could be the perfect start to that process.”

As a minimum, the A$700 million (US$630 million) LTA would create about 156 high-end jobs, including technicians, engineers, machine operators and quality assurance experts, and may create a further 620 support industry jobs.

"The LTA would be one of the largest awarded to Australian industry by the manufacturers of the JSF,” Odouard said.

Quickstep Holdings Ltd (ASX: QHL) specialises in the production of aerospace-grade composite components using both conventional autoclave-based manufacturing and out-of-autoclave production technologies, including its proprietary Quickstep Process.

The F-35 Lightning II is a 5th generation fighter aircraft. It is being developed by Lockheed Martin with its principal industrial partners, Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems. Development of the F-35 is being principally funded by the USA, with the UK and other partner governments providing additional funding.