The LTA is the first of several agreements which will implement the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that was signed in November 2009 with F-35 prime contractor Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, one of its principal F-35 subcontractors. The LTA will be followed by annual purchase orders, with further manufacturing contracts expected to be awarded thereafter.
Under the MOU, Quickstep will supply up to 16 different JSF components, including lower side skins, maintenance access panels, fuel tank covers, lower skins and in-board weapons bay doors, projected to amount to over 36 000 parts over the life of the programme. This could generate annual turnover of around $50 million by 2015. The total value of the work over the life of the aircraft could be up to $700 million.
Delivery of the first JSF parts is scheduled for 2012.
Quickstep 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.
Aerospace manufacturing in Sydney
With this manufacturing agreement now in place, Quickstep has also announced plans to establish a new aerospace manufacturing facility at Bankstown Airport in south-west Sydney, Australia. The company has signed a 10-year lease over 4200 m2 of buildings that were previously used by Boeing.
“The signing of this LTA signals a genuine quantum shift in Quickstep’s development," states Quickstep chief executive Philippe Odouard. "The international defence industry has perhaps one of the highest barriers to entry of any industry in the world, but, for companies that are successful, the contracts are generally large scale and long term. Quickstep has now earned its place as a supplier for JSF, and we hope many additional aerospace and defence contracts will soon follow.”
The move to Bankstown will provide Quickstep with the manufacturing capacity to become the largest independent aerospace composites manufacturer in Australia, and the company is actively seeking further manufacturing contracts. The decision to establish a new manufacturing hub in New South Wales (NSW) was underpinned by support from the NSW government and the ability to access an existing workforce with the skills required to deliver such a large scale defence programme, together with access to the large network of suppliers located in NSW and on the east coast of Australia.
Quickstep’s move to Bankstown will include the transfer of R&D programmes relating to its proprietary composites manufacturing technology – the Quickstep Process – which will form a key component of its future licensing and export capabilities from Australia.
Quickstep intends to undertake a staged transition from its existing facility in Western Australia. All Western Australian employees will be offered the opportunity to relocate to Sydney. The company plans to move some staff to Bankstown in early 2011 and plans to be ready for aerospace manufacturing by the end of 2011.