Joint Strike Fighter a government-industry partnership exemplar?

By Harley Dennett

June 16, 2016

Supplied image obtained Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013 of an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Defence company Lockheed Martin has defended its controversial F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), declaring it will be better than current combat aircraft, and cheaper. (AAP Image/Lockheed Martin, Matthew Short) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program has stretched governments’ tolerance over the last 10 years of development and production, but an industry conference in Canberra this week heard it was an exemplar of what partnerships can offer to public project delivery.

Kim Gillis, the Department of Defence’s deputy secretary for its capability acquisition and sustainment group, told the 2016 Defence Industry Conference he believed there was no other program that better demonstrates the value of partnerships to build capability. Its approach would be the template for future partnerships.

“It’s exceptional that Australian industry is supplying components to the entire fleet of F-35s with around 3000 aircraft expected to be manufactured worldwide,” Gillis said.

Australian industry participation in the F-35 has reached a value of around AUD$750 million as of December 2015 — and is expected to triple over the next four years.

“While the achievements in the program so far have been in design and production, the F-35 Global Support System is developing with a new round of opportunities now available.

“As a key F-35 partner and the only partner permanently located in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia has the opportunity to strengthen the F-35 Global Support System and increase affordability and availability for global F-35 customers world-wide.

“Australian industry is central to an effective, affordable and sustainable Defence capability and we appreciate their ongoing commitment to delivering not only the F-35 program but across the broad spectrum of Defence projects.”

The Department of Defence has been trying to reset and improve its relationship with industry for some time, notably releasing its Defence Industry Policy Statement earlier this year as part of the 2016 Defence White Paper.

Defence now estimates that Australian industry will reap AUD$2.7 billion by 2023 from participation in military capability development.

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