A Victorian small business has been awarded a USD$2.46 million contract with the US Navy to deliver 22 specialised work stands that give technicians safe access to the Navy’s P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol aircraft.

Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said the contract with AirFab, located in Ferntree Gully, Melbourne, demonstrated the invaluable export opportunities Australia’s Defence industry was receiving as a result of cooperation between the Royal Australian Air Force and the US Navy. The Wide-Band Satellite Telecommunications System work stands are purpose built and allow technicians to access the P-8A Wide-Band Satellite Communication station, and to safely conduct fuselage inspections without overextending.

“These work stands are designed to withstand harsh environments like those experienced at forward operating bases, and have integrated safety features to protect personnel,” Price said. “AirFab developed the work stand design in partnership with the Royal Australian Air Force and the US Navy to meet the unique requirements of the P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol aircraft. “Working with Royal Australian Air Force gave AirFab direct engagement with the US Navy that an Australian small business would not normally have had access to.”

Member for Aston Alan Tudge said the contract is great news for the local economy in Knox. “The materials used in the stands are Australian made, with the steel and aluminium sourced from local manufacturers,” Tudge said. “The export opportunity not only provides direct growth to AirFab but allows for residual employment and training to more than 20 small and medium sized companies that AirFab works with.”

In addition to supplying the 22 work stands to the US Navy, AirFab is also manufacturing eight work stands for the Royal Australian Air Force P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol aircraft fleet. “The purpose built work stands will allow technicians to access the P-8A Wide-band Satellite Communication station and to safely conduct fuselage inspections without overextending,” Price said. “This contract recognises that Australia’s Defence industry is capable of producing and exporting high-quality safety equipment for not only our Australian Defence personnel but to our allies.”

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