Northrop Grumman Corporation has provided more than US100 million dollars in contracts to Australian-based companies in just over 4 years. It is clear the company has considerable faith in local industry and is prepared to back that faith with investment.
Northrop Grumman, one of the top three defence companies in the United States, has quietly set about building a presence in Australia. The company has been operating in Australia, in one corporate form or another, for decades, but over recent year’s activity and investment has been on a steady increase.
Led by Northrop Grumman’s Electronic Systems sector, and followed by Aerospace Systems sector and others, the company has been building its local presence by partnering with Australian industry. Northrop Grumman is committed to using Australian capabilities where they exist and to fostering the development of indigenous capabilities where this is needed.
One of the most notable examples of this investment is Northrop Grumman’s on-going relationship with CEA Technologies. Northrop Grumman acquired a significant shareholding of CEA in March 2006. Both companies saw strategic advantage in this decision. CEA has a well-earned reputation as a specialist in digital phased-array radar. In particular, CEA developed the CEAFAR radar for the Anzac Class frigates installed as part of the recent Anti-Ship Missile Defence Upgrade program. Northrop Grumman and CEA are jointly pursuing US and other international radar opportunities.
CEA is a potential subcontractor to Northrop Grumman for the provision of the on-going
in-service support for the MESA radar system on Australia’s Wedgetail AEW&C. Success in this venture could see CEA develop their capabilities in the aerospace domain as a complement to their maritime domain expertise. Increasing international sales of MESA technologies will see a corresponding increase in opportunities for CEA to export its expertise and experience.
Northrop Grumman has also recognised the unique capabilities and technical expertise of Electro Optic Systems (EOS) Australia. Located in Canberra, EOS specializes in the development of advanced remote weapons stations and, laser and optical space tracking systems. On the space side, Northrop Grumman and EOS are working on a number of research and development opportunities.
The big pole in the tent is Northrop Grumman and EOS partnering to compete for the US Army’s Common Remotely Operated Weapons Station (CROWS 3) program to produce up to 10,000 remote weapons stations for armoured vehicles. Under CROWS 3, the US Army plans to equip its entire inventory of tactical vehicles making the total program worth as much as $US4 billion.
The Sperry Marine component of Northrop Grumman has a contractual relationship with Electrotech Australia for provision of support to the increasing number of Sperry Marine systems being installed across the RAN fleet. As the LHD and AWD systems come on line, with their Sperry Marine systems installed, such as the integrated bridge, data distribution system and navigational equipment, it is likely that cooperation with Electrotech will continue to expand.
Northrop Grumman is a JSF Team Partner and major subcontractor on the F-35 program, and has been a leader in providing contracts to Australian industry. To date, Northrop Grumman has provided more than $60 million to local companies including SMEs such as GKN, Production Parts, AOS, Varley and Ferra. GKN alone received more than $50 million worth of work on the design and development of critical JSF aircraft structures. GKN worked with Northrop Grumman in Australia, and also in California, on some of the most sophisticated areas of the aircraft’s structures and composite panels.
In addition, the company has recently signed a JSF production MOU with Quickstep Technologies, a Perth-based company, specialising in carbon fibre and composite technologies. Under the MOU, Quickstep could potentially win up to $700 million worth of JSF work through Northrop Grumman. Most of this work is in the production of composite doors and panels that will be part of the entire global fleet of JSF aircraft.
As a major subcontractor to Boeing, Northrop Grumman is playing a significant part in providing Australia with 24 Super Hornet aircraft. Northrop Grumman is also working with BAE to help support of the NG Litening ISR Targeting pods on Classic Hornets. Efforts are underway in identifying work on the Hornet for pre-qualified Australian companies.
Northrop Grumman is committed to supporting the Australian defence organisation and is determined to both continuing its partnerships with Australian industry and, where appropriate, to building its own local presence.
Northrop Grumman knows full well that the defence industry is a global one. Systems such as the JSF, Super Hornet, AWD, LHD, Global Hawk and the vast majority of others, are neither designed, manufactured nor maintained in isolation. These activities happen within a global village. Critical to the through life support of systems is the efficiency and effectiveness of global sustainment systems and the companies underpinning those systems. Northrop Grumman has demonstrated a willingness to work with Australian companies to support not just systems in Australia, but across its entire global supply chain.