Former South Australian car parts maker Axiom Precision Manufacturing and several other Australian companies have won more work in Australia on the global F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programme. Under a contract with BAE Systems Australia, Axiom already supports BAE Systems with component machining for the Joint Strike Fighter, the world’s largest defence programme. This new contract, said to be worth about A$800,000, will take the value of Axiom’s work to more than A$3 million a year.
So far, 50 Australian companies have shared in almost A$1.8 billion in the production of the F-35 programme, employing over 2,400 Australian workers. Other companies receiving grants from Defence include: Victoria-based Moog has been awarded A$250,000 to undertake a study and capability gap analysis to prepare for the sustainment phase of the F-35 Global Support Solution. This analysis is the first step towards Moog becoming a qualified repair source for sustainment under the F-35 programme; Victoria-based A.W. Bell has been awarded A$250,000 to invest at its Dandenong South casting and production facility, to improve competitiveness and reduce risk for the F-35 global supply chain. The grants were awarded under the New Air Combat Capability – Industry Support Program. It supports the development of new or improved capabilities that enhance Australian industry’s ability to win work in production, sustainment and follow-on development phases of the F-35 programme.
Axiom machines seven parts in each vertical tail set produced by BAE Systems at its Edinburgh Park facilities north of Adelaide. Since starting on the programme in 2015, Axiom has continued to expand its machining capabilities and won the new work after a six month trial during 2019-2020. The new work involves machining one of the most complex parts for the F-35 vertical tail – the Leading Edge Spar which at just under three metres is the longest titanium component in the aircraft’s vertical tail. The machining work awarded to Axiom was previously undertaken in the UK.
Across its global enterprise, BAE Systems has a significant role in the advanced manufacture of F-35 aircraft. In Australia, the team produces bespoke components, which are supplied to BAE Systems in the UK which builds the aft fuselage and empennage, as well as to Victorian manufacturer Marand which consolidates components in the vertical tail.
Production of vertical tail parts at Edinburgh Parks began in 2008 and will continue for another decade.
BAE Systems Australia Managing Director Defence Delivery Andrew Gresham said: “From the very start, Axiom has worked closely with us to understand the program and has invested significantly in new facilities and technologies to improve its capabilities as a supplier to the defence industry.
“By providing new opportunities for our supply chain, it puts us in a much better position to bid for and secure additional high value advanced manufacturing and further increase Australia’s work share on the Joint Strike Fighter programme.”
Aerospace and Defence Manager Axiom Precision Manufacturing Fred Hull said: “The strategic alliance Axiom has with BAE Systems has assisted Axiom in maturing as a key defence contractor. Securing defence industry contracts has provided the critical long-term, high-value work that has allowed us to transition from the car industry by developing bespoke Australian manufacturing capabilities. These long-term programmes allow Axiom to have the confidence to forge ahead with training, capability improvements and capital investments.”