F-35S aircraft

Quickstep has signed a long-term agreement (LTA) with Marand Precision Engineering to manufacture components for the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter (JSF) aircraft.

Under the terms of the $139m agreement, the company will manufacture and supply around 700 sets of carbon fibre composite parts for the F-35 vertical tails to Marand over a period of 14 years.

Specifically, the company will manufacture 18 individual parts, including skins, spars and fairings, which along with parts from other suppliers will be assembled by Marand into vertical tails for their customer, BAE Systems.

The vertical tails will subsequently be shipped to Lockheed Martin‘s facility in Fort Worth, Texas, US, for incorporation with other components for the F-35A variant of the JSF.

Quickstep managing director Philippe Odouard said the long-term agreement locks in the previous memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Marand for the JSF programme.

"This is an important step forward for Australian manufacturing, which demonstrates the value of our capabilities for global aerospace and defence contracts, and our capacity to meet the complex schedules of international supply chains," Odouard said.

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"The company will manufacture and supply around 700 sets of carbon fibre composite parts for the F-35 vertical tails."

The new LTA is expected to provide $13m in annual sales revenue for Quickstep by initially providing for annual purchase orders, with longer term purchase orders to be confirmed as the programme matures.

The delivery of the first parts to Marand’s facility in Victoria, Australia, is anticipated in the second half of 2015.

Quickstep is delivering carbon fibre composite skins and subassemblies for the F-35 programme, and the overall agreement to manufacture JSF parts for different original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) is valued at up to $700m to the company over two decades.

Under development in three variants, the F-35 JSF is a fifth-generation multirole fighter aircraft designed to conduct an array of ground attack, reconnaissance and air defence missions with stealth capability.

Image: An F-35A Lightning II joint strike fighter aircraft in flight. Photo: courtesy of MSgt John Nimmo Sr.

Defence Technology