Australien — The Joint Strike Fighter Program and Australia

THE HON. GREG COMBET AM MP Min­is­ter for Defence Materiel and Sci­ence

Mon­day, 3 May 2010 

“The Joint Strike Fight­er Pro­gram and Aus­tralia: Stay­ing Inno­v­a­tive To Remain Rel­e­vant” JSF Advanced Tech­nol­o­gy & Inno­va­tion Con­fer­ence Mel­bourne



Thank you Air Vice-Mar­shal Har­vey for your kind intro­duc­tion and good morn­ing everyone. 

I would like to thank all of you for attend­ing this very impor­tant con­fer­ence, par­tic­u­lar­ly those who have trav­elled so far to be here. 

I note that today’s con­fer­ence is well-rep­re­sent­ed by the JSF Pro­gram Office and the major JSF con­trac­tors; Lock­heed Mar­tin, BAE Sys­tems, Northrop Grum­man, Pratt & Whit­ney, GE and Rolls-Royce. I appre­ci­ate your sup­port for this ongo­ing Aus­tralian initiative. 

I also appre­ci­ate the wide range of atten­dees from Aus­tralia; from R&D organ­i­sa­tions; indus­try; and from Defence and oth­er gov­ern­ment departments. 

This is the fourth Aus­tralian JSF Advanced Tech­nol­o­gy and Inno­va­tion Con­fer­ence, and its sub-title is “Advanced Tech­nol­o­gy for a Future JSF: From Ore in the Ground to Parts on the Aeroplane”. 

The sub-title reflects an oppor­tu­ni­ty for Aus­tralia to make use of its valu­able nat­ur­al resources. For exam­ple, Aus­tralia pos­sess­es around 40% of the world’s tita­ni­um yet we are doing lit­tle with it despite its use increas­ing rapid­ly in both civ­il and mil­i­tary aerospace; 

The aim of this con­fer­ence is to help bring Aus­tralian tech­nol­o­gy and inno­va­tion togeth­er to the ben­e­fit of the JSF Pro­gram, because it is through our part­ner­ship in the JSF Pro­gram, the world’s largest col­lab­o­ra­tive defence pro­gram, that we will meet our strate­gic and eco­nom­ic goals. 

I’d like to take this oppor­tu­ni­ty to dis­cuss the sta­tus of the Joint Strike Fight­er pro­gram, includ­ing the issues around afford­abil­i­ty. I then intend to dis­cuss the cur­rent and future Aus­tralian indus­try oppor­tu­ni­ties and final­ly I intend to make an announce­ment around the Com­mon­wealth Government’s sup­port for Aus­tralian com­pa­nies seek­ing to win JSF work. 

Pro­gram Sta­tus

Late last year, I vis­it­ed Lock­heed Mar­tin at Fort Worth for dis­cus­sions on progress of the JSF Pro­gram and to see first-hand what had been achieved since I vis­it­ed in 2008. 

I was impressed with what I saw at Fort Worth, but the vis­it also high­light­ed to me the immense chal­lenge posed by the JSF Pro­gram – nine part­ner nations and many of the world’s lead­ing aero­space com­pa­nies in part­ner­ship, devel­op­ing three vari­ants of an afford­able fifth-gen­er­a­tion stealth fight­er that will be the back­bone of our tac­ti­cal air com­bat capa­bil­i­ty for the next generation. 

As we have seen over the last few months, there is no doubt that the JSF Pro­gram will con­tin­ue to face chal­lenges that must be over­come. But if the JSF wasn’t so chal­leng­ing, it wouldn’t deliv­er what we all want. The sig­nif­i­cant advances in capa­bil­i­ty pro­vid­ed by the fifth gen­er­a­tion JSF war­rant­ed Gov­ern­ment accept­ing a degree of risk in this program. 

You are all aware of US Sec­re­tary of Defense Robert Gates’ recent state­ments on JSF cost and sched­ule issues, as well as on con­trac­tor per­for­mance not meet­ing expec­ta­tions over the last year or so. The Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment wel­comes the deci­sive action that he has tak­en to deal with these issues and we are com­mit­ted to work­ing with the US and oth­er part­ners to make this Pro­gram a great suc­cess and a mod­el for future inter­na­tion­al collaboration. 

In rais­ing his con­cerns about JSF cost and sched­ule issues, how­ev­er, Sec­re­tary Gates stressed that he saw no fun­da­men­tal tech­ni­cal chal­lenges that threat­ened the ulti­mate suc­cess of the Pro­gram. Indeed, we have seen major tech­ni­cal achieve­ments recent­ly, includ­ing:
* the suc­cess­ful first short take-off, hov­er and ver­ti­cal land­ing of the Short Take-Off and Ver­ti­cal Land­ing vari­ant;
* first flight of the first mis­sion sys­tems air­craft;
* com­ple­tion of cer­ti­fi­ca­tion and first flight of the Hel­met-Mount­ed Dis­play sys­tem; and
* Just last week the first two Con­ven­tion­al Take-Off and Land­ing test air­craft flew a total of 16 suc­cess­ful sor­ties in a peri­od of only sev­en days. 

There has also been good progress in ground sta­t­ic test­ing and devel­op­ment of JSF sen­sors and com­ple­tion of around 85% of the total 20 mil­lion lines of JSF software. 

When I was at Fort Worth in 2009 I was able to wit­ness the assem­bly line work­ing on the first pro­duc­tion aircraft. 

It is impor­tant to restate that over­all, no offi­cial review of the JSF pro­gram such as the 2009 Joint Esti­mat­ing Team report have dis­cov­ered any fun­da­men­tal tech­no­log­i­cal or man­u­fac­tur­ing prob­lems with the JSF pro­gram, or any change in the aircraft’s pro­ject­ed mil­i­tary capabilities. 


But tech­ni­cal chal­lenges do remain, as do afford­abil­i­ty challenges. 

I’m sure you’re all aware of the ongo­ing review of JSF cost esti­mates – no sim­ple task to deter­mine the cost of pro­duc­ing over 3,000 next-gen­er­a­tion fight­ers for Unit­ed States (US) Ser­vices and inter­na­tion­al part­ners out beyond 2030 with a high degree of com­mon­al­i­ty across three vari­ants using new pro­duc­tion tech­niques with new tech­nolo­gies and materials. 

When­ev­er we dis­cuss the costs of the JSF we need to keep in mind that the esti­mates are based on pre­vi­ous devel­op­men­tal air­craft such as the Super Hor­net and F‑22. It is use­ful to look at how actu­al costs to date com­pare with the esti­mat­ed costs. 

While we are ear­ly in the pro­duc­tion phase, it should be not­ed that the con­tracts for Low Rate Ini­tial Pro­duc­tion Lots 1 to 3 were signed well below the pre­dict­ed costs con­tained in the Joint Esti­mat­ing Team report. For exam­ple the LRIP 3 con­tract was signed for twen­ty per cent below the Joint Esti­mat­ing Team estimate. 

It is also impor­tant at this stage to dif­fer­en­ti­ate between the core JSF Pro­gram and our New Air Com­bat Capa­bil­i­ty project and to stress that we have always adopt­ed a cau­tious approach to JSF cost and sched­ule estimates. 

We have fac­tored in sig­nif­i­cant cost and sched­ule buffers in our project in antic­i­pa­tion of the steps being tak­en in the US to deal with project risks and to ensure that our Ini­tial Oper­a­tional Capa­bil­i­ty will be met in 2018 as planned. 

Afford­abil­i­ty has always been a key goal of the JSF Pro­gram and we must do all we can to keep it afford­able:
* afford­able to devel­op;
* afford­able to pro­duce;
* afford­able to sus­tain; and
* afford­able to upgrade through­out its life so that it can meet evolv­ing threats. 

Like Aus­tralia, JSF part­ner coun­tries are seek­ing an afford­able solu­tion, but they are also, under­stand­ably, seek­ing a good out­come for their nation­al indus­try giv­en the large invest­ment they will be making. 

Achiev­ing the twin goals of afford­abil­i­ty and part­ner indus­try involve­ment requires indus­try to be com­pet­i­tive, which in turn requires effec­tive appli­ca­tion of advanced tech­nol­o­gy and inno­va­tion. It also requires the com­mit­ment of the Program’s prime con­trac­tors to seek out the most cost-effec­tive and inno­v­a­tive solu­tions across the JSF part­ner­ship – hence this conference! 

Oppor­tu­ni­ties for Aus­tralia in the JSF Pro­gram

Defence spon­sor­ship of this, the fourth JSF Advanced Tech­nol­o­gy and Inno­va­tion Con­fer­ence, illus­trates the impor­tance the Gov­ern­ment places not only on the JSF Pro­gram itself, but also the role played by Aus­tralian indus­try and R&D organ­i­sa­tions, now and over the planned 50 or so year life of the Program. 

The JSF offers a unique oppor­tu­ni­ty for Aus­tralian indus­try to par­tic­i­pate in the one of the most advanced aero­nau­ti­cal projects ever attempted. 

Australia’s part­ner­ship in the JSF Pro­gram offers major oppor­tu­ni­ties for inter­na­tion­al­ly com­pet­i­tive and inno­v­a­tive Aus­tralian com­pa­nies and R&D agen­cies to enter the sup­ply chains of some of the largest and most sophis­ti­cat­ed man­u­fac­tur­ers in the world. 

While mil­i­tary off-the-shelf projects have their ben­e­fits, they gen­er­al­ly imply mature sup­ply chains and lim­it­ed oppor­tu­ni­ties for new play­ers to get involved. Devel­op­men­tal pro­grams like the JSF cer­tain­ly present risks but they also pro­vide major oppor­tu­ni­ties while the sup­ply chains for the Pro­gram are being developed. 

And it’s not just the sup­ply chain for the Aus­tralian fleet – enter­ing the JSF Pro­gram as a devel­op­ment part­ner opens up oppor­tu­ni­ties in the glob­al sup­ply and sup­port chain of the world’s largest defence project. 

Because the pro­grams are devel­op­men­tal, we are talk­ing about new and advanced tech­nolo­gies and the oppor­tu­ni­ty to increase Aus­tralian exports in the aero­space and elec­tron­ics sec­tors as well as increas­ing employ­ment in high-tech­nol­o­gy jobs. 

It’s about mov­ing into new mar­kets and devel­op­ing Aus­tralian-based advanced man­u­fac­tur­ing tech­nolo­gies, notably com­pos­ites and tita­ni­um. This improves and strength­ens our over­all skills base in engi­neer­ing design, research and man­u­fac­tur­ing, an out­come that over­laps with those sought in oth­er man­u­fac­tur­ing sectors. 

It is impor­tant to tak­en an his­tor­i­cal view of these oppor­tu­ni­ties, just as the use of alu­mini­um in air­craft rev­o­lu­tionised trans­port in the 20th cen­tu­ry, the use of com­pos­ites and tita­ni­um will char­ac­terise 21st cen­tu­ry avi­a­tion. Mas­tery of these mate­ri­als by Aus­tralian com­pa­nies will be an essen­tial pre­cur­sor to win­ning work on avi­a­tion projects. 

Aus­tralia there­fore needs to keep up with cut­ting-edge tech­nol­o­gy and must reduce costs asso­ci­at­ed with pro­duc­tion, main­te­nance and oper­a­tion of the air­craft. In your dis­cus­sions over the next three days, I urge you to con­sid­er how Aus­tralia might col­lec­tive­ly lever­age new tech­nolo­gies and remain cost competitive. 

Aus­tralian Indus­try Progress

To date, 28 Aus­tralian com­pa­nies have won work on the JSF Pro­gram val­ued at over $200 mil­lion. This work has been pri­mar­i­ly in the ini­tial design and pro­duc­tion of test air­craft. I would like to con­grat­u­late all those com­pa­nies for their sig­nif­i­cant achieve­ment in the face of stiff inter­na­tion­al competition. 

Involve­ment in the JSF Pro­gram has exposed our com­pa­nies to the meth­ods and prac­tices that the over­seas primes expect their sup­pli­ers to adhere to, which has, in turn, increased our com­pa­nies’ chances of win­ning fur­ther work in the inter­na­tion­al sup­ply chains. 

To meet JSF require­ments, our com­pa­nies have had to pro­duce com­po­nents with the finest tol­er­ances and high­est per­for­mance, which has also helped improve local pro­duc­tion meth­ods, com­pet­i­tive­ness and efficiency. 

Future Indus­try Oppor­tu­ni­ties

With the Pro­gram now ramp­ing up to pro­duc­tion rates, much larg­er oppor­tu­ni­ties are open­ing up as Lock­heed Mar­tin and its JSF part­ners lock in sec­ond source sup­pli­ers to meet grow­ing capac­i­ty requirements. 

The key deter­mi­nant of the ulti­mate cost of the JSF will be how quick­ly sup­pli­ers can reduce cost as vol­umes increase – that is the pro­duc­tion ‘learn­ing curve’ effect. To remain com­pet­i­tive, all JSF sup­pli­ers will need to con­tin­u­al­ly improve effi­cien­cy and innovate. 

Aus­tralian com­pa­nies are now direct­ly engaged with Lock­heed Mar­tin and its JSF indus­try part­ners in secur­ing con­tracts and long-term agree­ments for the pro­duc­tion oppor­tu­ni­ties iden­ti­fied in the JSF Indus­try Par­tic­i­pa­tion Plans. 

The Indus­try Par­tic­i­pa­tion Plans iden­ti­fied bil­lions of dol­lars of oppor­tu­ni­ties in JSF’s 25-year pro­duc­tion stage alone. This is in addi­tion to the facil­i­ties and infra­struc­ture work in the order of $1 bil­lion to be spent in Australia. 

The Indus­try Par­tic­i­pa­tion Plans include approx­i­mate­ly 180 indi­vid­ual oppor­tu­ni­ties for Aus­tralian indus­try based on an inves­ti­ga­tion of Aus­tralian indus­try capa­bil­i­ties dur­ing the ini­tial devel­op­ment phase of the JSF Program. 

While these oppor­tu­ni­ties offer large indus­try devel­op­ment poten­tial for Aus­tralian indus­try, poten­tial­ly cre­at­ing sev­er­al thou­sand long-term jobs, the upfront invest­ment is considerable. 

To that end, Gov­ern­ment is work­ing with Lock­heed, its JSF part­ners and their sub-con­trac­tors, to devel­op long-term agree­ments with Aus­tralian com­pa­nies so that Aus­tralian indus­try has the con­fi­dence to make the nec­es­sary invest­ments to win this work. 

While there has been active engage­ment with Aus­tralian indus­try in many areas of the Pro­gram, progress in some areas has been slow­er than expect­ed. Fur­ther work is required here, and I stressed these issues to Lock­heed Mar­tin when I vis­it­ed Fort Worth last year – they must search deep and hard among all part­ner coun­tries, includ­ing Aus­tralia, to ensure capa­bil­i­ty and afford­abil­i­ty goals are met. 

Recent devel­op­ments in terms of major long-term pro­duc­tion work have includ­ed the sig­na­ture of a Mem­o­ran­dum of Under­stand­ing on JSF ver­ti­cal tails and com­pos­ite doors and pan­els – poten­tial­ly worth hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars. Around the same time there was a MOU signed for JSF Aux­il­iary Mis­sion Equip­ment – also poten­tial­ly worth hun­dreds of mil­lions of dollars. 

I also pass on my appre­ci­a­tion to the many more Aus­tralian com­pa­nies that have not yet won work on the Pro­gram but have put a lot of effort into future oppor­tu­ni­ties. I encour­age you to keep up the good work – the gov­ern­ment team will con­tin­ue to work with you as part of JSF Team Aus­tralia to achieve a pos­i­tive outcome. 

Fol­low-on Development 

In addi­tion to the oppor­tu­ni­ties already iden­ti­fied in the Indus­try Par­tic­i­pa­tion Plans for the JSF pro­duc­tion phase, there will be major addi­tion­al oppor­tu­ni­ties through the fol­low-on devel­op­ment and sus­tain­ment phas­es of the Program. 

Although JSF is a long-term project, the base­line design is essen­tial­ly com­plete. We there­fore need to look at future devel­op­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties for Aus­tralian tech­nol­o­gy and inno­va­tion that enhance capa­bil­i­ty and afford­abil­i­ty. And it’s not just about the air­craft itself – there are many oth­er oppor­tu­ni­ties in JSF enabling and sup­port systems. 

Fol­low­ing estab­lish­ment of the base­line design, it is planned that JSF will under­go tech­nol­o­gy refresh and block upgrades over the life of the Pro­gram to ensure the air­craft retains its capa­bil­i­ty edge. Invest­ment in non-recur­ring engi­neer­ing alone will be in the order of US$500 mil­lion per year. 

Each block upgrade rep­re­sents about ten years from con­cept to imple­men­ta­tion. This long time hori­zon empha­sis­es why Aus­tralian indus­try and R&D organ­i­sa­tions need to antic­i­pate future require­ments if we are to con­tin­ue to play a role in the Program. 

For Aus­tralia to be suc­cess­ful in this future envi­ron­ment we must dri­ve inno­va­tion in defence tech­nol­o­gy by pool­ing the exper­tise and resources of gov­ern­ment, indus­try and R&D organisations. 

Today’s con­fer­ence is one small step in that process. The con­nec­tions made here today between research organ­i­sa­tions, indus­try and gov­ern­ment may well lead to new capa­bil­i­ties in the JSF in 10 years time. 

Gov­ern­ment sup­port for defence inno­va­tion

The Gov­ern­ment is very inter­est­ed in sup­port­ing inno­va­tion in the defence indus­try. The Gov­ern­ment is cur­rent­ly refin­ing its Indus­try Pol­i­cy State­ment and we expect to release it shortly. 

A key pol­i­cy ini­tia­tive, how­ev­er, is the $21 mil­lion Defence Indus­try Inno­va­tion Cen­tre, which works with SMEs in the defence sec­tor to boost pro­duc­tiv­i­ty, improve inno­va­tion and increase com­pet­i­tive­ness. I had the hon­our of for­mal­ly launch­ing the Cen­tre in Sep­tem­ber last year. I am pleased to see some of its rep­re­sen­ta­tives here today. 

Most recent­ly, Defence and the Depart­ment of Inno­va­tion, Indus­try, Sci­ence and Research have been work­ing to iden­ti­fy poten­tial sources of finan­cial sup­port to assist in deliv­er­ing major indus­try oppor­tu­ni­ties, par­tic­u­lar­ly impor­tant for large upfront invest­ments to meet JSF pro­duc­tion capac­i­ty requirements. 

To expand the rela­tion­ship between DSTO, uni­ver­si­ties and indus­try, the Gov­ern­ment also com­mit­ted to estab­lish a research cen­tre to con­duct research on defence pri­or­i­ty areas. The estab­lish­ment of the Defence Mate­ri­als Tech­nol­o­gy Cen­tre (DMTC) is a prod­uct of this ini­tia­tive. I’m glad to see there are rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the DMTC here today. 

There have also been sig­nif­i­cant changes to the Skilling Aus­tralian Defence Indus­try (SADI) pro­gram over the last two years. Defence has con­cen­trat­ed on reduc­ing the amount of ‘red tape’ involved in apply­ing for SADI, mak­ing it as easy as pos­si­ble for com­pa­nies to access SADI. It is very pleas­ing to see that there has been a strong increase in SADI appli­ca­tions and in the finan­cial com­mit­ment of industry. 

The New Air Com­bat Capa­bil­i­ty project also ini­ti­at­ed the Aus­tralian JSF Indus­try Tech­nol­o­gy Facil­i­ta­tion Pro­gram around the time of the last of these conferences. 

The pro­gram iden­ti­fied some 300 pro­pos­als from Aus­tralian uni­ver­si­ties and pub­licly-fund­ed research organ­i­sa­tions which had the poten­tial to con­tribute to JSF fol­low-on devel­op­ment or to improve JSF man­u­fac­tur­ing processes. 

In this con­text, it was recog­nised that, to achieve long-term nation­al indus­try objec­tives for JSF, it was nec­es­sary for Defence to pro­vide some sup­port for devel­op­ment of select­ed pri­or­i­ty areas, for which suit­able fund­ing mech­a­nisms were not at that point available. 

To con­tin­ue this impor­tant work I am pleased to announce that $8.5 mil­lion in fund­ing to assist indus­try in over­com­ing ear­ly invest­ment chal­lenges was approved as part of the recent $3.2 bil­lion NACC Stage 1 sec­ond-pass approval. This $8.5 mil­lion is in addi­tion to all the oth­er pro­grams and is con­crete evi­dence of Gov­ern­ments com­mit­ment to help Aus­tralian indus­try that is com­pet­i­tive win work on the JSF

This is par­tic­u­lar­ly impor­tant as our focus shifts to greater engage­ment in pro­duc­tion, sus­tain­ment and fol­low-on development. 

While we are yet to specif­i­cal­ly allo­cate these funds they will be devot­ed to rel­a­tive­ly small invest­ments that have a large poten­tial pay off for Aus­tralian indus­try. We are work­ing on three cat­e­gories of fund­ing to sup­port:
* Tech­nol­o­gy devel­op­ments that will enhance Aus­tralian indus­try par­tic­i­pa­tion in the JSF Pro­gram;
* Small invest­ments that will enhance the poten­tial for SMEs to com­pete for and win oppor­tu­ni­ties that are iden­ti­fied in the JSF Indus­try Par­tic­i­pa­tion Plans; and
* Inno­va­tion by Aus­tralian indus­try and research organ­i­sa­tions, where this has appli­ca­tions for JSF fol­low-on development. 

We are expect­ing that some of the new tech­nolo­gies pre­sent­ed here at this con­fer­ence may be eli­gi­ble for sup­port under the JSF Indus­try Tech­nol­o­gy Facil­i­ta­tion Program. 

As an exam­ple, one of the inno­va­tions Defence is already sup­port­ing relates to laser-assist­ed machin­ing of tita­ni­um. The Gov­ern­ment is work­ing with Fer­ra Engi­neer­ing, CAST CRC and Lock­heed Mar­tin on the con­trolled tran­si­tion of tech­nol­o­gy in this area from the lab­o­ra­to­ry envi­ron­ment to the workshop. 

If suc­cess­ful, this work could lead to a 40 per cent or more reduc­tion in the time to machine com­plex tita­ni­um parts. I would like to con­grat­u­late all those involved for their work in pio­neer­ing this approach. 

A sim­i­lar approach is being exam­ined on direct man­u­fac­tur­ing of tita­ni­um and oth­er alloys to near net shape where there are sav­ings of up to 60 per cent in machin­ing time con­sid­ered achievable. 

Gov­ern­ment and the pri­vate sec­tor need to joint­ly seize the oppor­tu­ni­ties that such inno­v­a­tive work and our part­ner­ship in the JSF Pro­gram offers – we need to work togeth­er now to secure the oppor­tu­ni­ties for the future. 


As I said before, the JSF Pro­gram is extreme­ly impor­tant to Aus­tralia and the oth­er part­ner coun­tries from a strate­gic and eco­nom­ic per­spec­tive and the work you are doing now will have major long-term implications. 

The Gov­ern­ment is com­mit­ted to work­ing with the US and the oth­er JSF part­ner nations to make this Pro­gram a great suc­cess and a mod­el for future inter­na­tion­al collaboration. 

My key mes­sage is that we must stay inno­v­a­tive and com­pet­i­tive to remain relevant. 

I would now like to declare open the fourth Aus­tralian JSF Advanced Tech­nol­o­gy and Inno­va­tion Con­fer­ence. I wish you all well over the next three days and I look for­ward to hear­ing about the outcomes. 

Media con­tacts:
Rod Hilton (Greg Com­bet): 02 6277 7620or 0458 276 619
Defence Media Liai­son: 02 6127 1999 or 0408 498 664 

Press release
Min­is­te­r­i­al Sup­port and Pub­lic Affairs,
Depart­ment of Defence,
Can­ber­ra, Australia 

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →