Michael Ronaldson

Marand has manufactured and delivered the first set of Australian made vertical tail for the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter (JSF) aircraft.

The company, along with its supply chain is manufacturing a total of 722 vertical tails sets under a subcontract with BAE Systems for installation onboard the F-35 fighters of the US and other partner nations.

Marand managing director David Ellul said the delivery is a major step for the company to move into the field of aerostructures production.

"The unique capability we have established will serve the Australian defence industry and create high technology Australian jobs for many years to come," Ellul said.

Australian Veterans’ Affairs Minister Michael Ronaldson said the delivery of the vertical tails is expected to generate around $1bn of revenue and employ 200 staff at Marand through the life of the programme.

Ronaldson said, "Given the stability of the F-35 program, the Australian Government expects Lockheed Martin to enter into long-term contracts with Australian Industry including Marand, to provide further certainty for Australian industry and to allow future cost reductions."

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The F-35 programme also has several other significant opportunities for the Australian industry, including production of composite panels for the F-35 fuselage, weapons carriers, decoy flares and other components.

"The Australian Government expects Lockheed Martin to enter into long-term contracts with Australian Industry including Marand."

Australia has to date placed orders for two F-35 aircraft, which are under production and are scheduled for delivery in the second half of 2014.

The ferry flights of the aircraft by the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to Australia are expected to start from 2018.

Australia expects that its commitment to acquire additional aircraft should be reciprocated by a commitment from Lockheed Martin to further increase the opportunities for Australian Industry.

Designed to conduct ground attack, reconnaissance and air defence missions with stealth capability, the F-35 JSF is a fifth-generation multirole fighter being developed by Lockheed in three variants.

Image: Australian Veterans’ Affairs Minister Michael Ronaldson attended the ceremony commemorating the delivery of the first set of Australian made F-35 vertical tails at Marand’s facility in Melbourne, Australia. Photo: courtesy of Marand Precison.

Defence Technology