While Lockheed Martin’s legacy connections with Australia stretch back to the time of the Second World War when the Australian defence industry was in its prime, the issue of the industry’s involvement in global supply chains has been a relatively recent development.
Prior to the 1990s, the major international defence prime contractors responded to the Australian Government’s requirements with Military Off-the-Shelf (MOTS) equipment with a proviso for various forms of off-set agreements.
It was not until the US Government created the requirement for a Joint Strike Fighter program, that flowed from the development of the then revolutionary, stealthy F-22 Raptor fighter-bomber, that a new system of manufacturing was created.
In the mid 1990s the US Government pitted Lockheed Martin and the Boeing Aircraft Company in a competition to develop a stealthy single-engine fighter that would be common to their three services – the US Air Force, the US Navy and the US Marine Corps – in three variants of the same aircraft, a conventional landing and take-off version (CTOL), an aircraft carrier version (CV) and a short take-off and vertical landing version (STOVL).
After an exhaustive period of experimental flight testing, the Lockheed Martin F-35 was selected for the Joint Strike Fighter program, bringing in a new era in international aerospace manufacturing.
The JSF program was created by Lockheed Martin, as the prime contractor, with two major partners in Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems to build the aircraft, with Pratt & Whitney and GE-Rolls Royce selected to develop a completely inter-changeable engine.
But here all legacy methods of aircraft construction changed.
Breaking away from the accepted process, Lockheed Martin and its partners created an international program involving the UK, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, Turkey, Italy, Norway and Sweden.
Each country would make a financial commitment to the program relative to their expected level of the number of aircraft they would buy and in return their defence industries would bid and compete on a best value for money basis for the production of parts and systems for the aircraft.
At this point the international partner countries defence industries were reviewed in detail by the prime contractors for the aircraft and the engines to determine their capabilities to assume some portion of sub-assembly/assembly work on the F-35 program.
A detailed international production plan was then established that matched both the partner’s abilities and the program’s budget capability.
Off-set was now a thing of the past and the Global Supply Chain became a reality.
Since Australia made its initial commitment to the program some 24 companies have successfully bid competitively for work on the program and in the System Demonstration and Development (SDD) phase of the program have earned over $200 million in contract work.
Once a company has won and completed an F-35 contract they have to re-bid – again competitively – for the next phase of the program. But in the process they have joined a unique group of companies, as members of the Lockheed Martin Global Supply Chain.
Their capabilities are now logged in a corporate system that will identify them immediately when Lockheed Martin becomes involved in any new programs and they are invited to bid for this new work.
During the past two years the Australian industry expanded its level of involvement in the JSF program as an International Participant.
With the SDD phase of the program completed with the building of 23 aircraft for both flight and ground testing, the pace of the program is increasing exponentially as more aircraft are to be built and delivered to the US and international partners over the next three to four years.
Last year an MOU was signed between Lockheed Martin, BAES UK, and Marand Precision Engineering (Australia) for 722 Ship Sets of CTOL Vertical Tails. This includes composite manufacturing by QuickStep in Western Australia.
Meanwhile, there are still machining companies including Ferra Engineering in Queensland, Production Parts and Marand in Melbourne, Lovitt Engineering and Levett Engineering in South Australia, making various parts and systems for the JSF today.
And this year Ferra Engineering signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Lockheed Martin to set up a direct manufacturing facility to produce titanium parts for the F-35. This is a world-first facility and it will use leading-edge, innovative technology to fabricate the titanium components that will deliver significant costs advantages over traditional machining methods.
The wide spread of the international JSF participation brings about logistical challenges that will be met by the core capabilities and the strategic approach of the LM Aeronautics Integrated Supply Network called the Global Delivery System.
The integrated supply network is a shared supply chain that operates globally to support aircraft production and fleet sustainment requirements for the F-35 Program. This supply chain aligns the activities, capabilities, infrastructure, and policies shared among the program and core functions to provide responsive support.
The Integrated Supply Network fully supports the JSF Program with the following features:
Total Asset Visibility: An aggregated view of material inventory that is accessible across Production and Sustainment throughout the phases of a contract and sharable among globally distributed customers.
Reliable and Responsive Supply: A synchronized approach to supply planning, demand forecasting, and configuration management that provides optimum transportation and warehousing, import/export compliance, and integrated data and technology management.
Business Rules and Policies: A comprehensive method of governance that engages internal and external Program stakeholders through business rules, organization structures, metrics, and leadership support.
Similar methods will be employed for the MH-60R if it is chosen as the winner for the naval combat helicopter competition and for the Land 121 program should LMC win the JLTV competition in the US.
This year, Lockheed Martin, as part of Team Romeo bidding for the contract to supply the Royal Australian Navy with the MH-60R helicopter, joined by teammates Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, General Electric, Raytheon and CAE, interviewed more than 40 Australian companies with potential to supply content for the helicopter.
If Team Romeo wins the competition, more than 150 high technology jobs will be generated along with $1 billion dollars in business for Australian companies.
Quite a number of the companies already in the Global Supply Chain from their work on the Joint Strike Fighter program will have further work opportunities if Lockheed Martin is the successful bidder for the Navy’s maritime combat helicopter and the JLTV.
Team Romeo is looking for specialty Australian companies that can modify, upgrade and provide logistics support to Royal Australian Navy specifications over the aircraft fleet’s 30-year life. Australian enterprises have the potential to participate on the Romeo program supporting cockpit avionics, network- centric warfare, engine repair, airframe refurbishment and remanufacture, training and equipment maintenance, as well as other logistics support.
The Australian Government and the Defence Materiel Organisation have taken up the basic Clobal Supply Chain concept of the Joint Strike Fighter program as it’s benefits for local industry are well recognised.
Lockheed Martin will soon sign an over-arching Global Supply Chain Corporate Deed of Agreement to more formally establish the Corporation’s intent to further build upon the successes achieved in the JSF program.
For further information please contact:
Mr Paul Johnson
Lockheed Martin Corporation
42 Macquarie St
Barton ACT 2600
+61 (03) 8710 1500