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Message from Head JSF Division – AVM Leigh Gordon AM, CSM 

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Pictured from left to right: Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon. Christopher Pyne, MP; Head Joint Strike Fighter Division, Air Vice-Marshal Leigh Gordon; and Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Leo Davies. Picture taken at the official opening of the Off-Board Information Systems Centre (OBISC), RAAF Base Williamtown.

The last few months have been a busy period with the Australian F-35A Project continuing to deliver against major milestones. 

I was fortunate to attend the official opening of the F-35A Off-Board Information Systems Centre (OBISC) at RAAF Base Williamtown on 5 July 2017 accompanied by the Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon. Christopher Pyne, MP and Chief of Air Force, AVM Leo Davies.  Minister Pyne unveiled a plaque, celebrating the first of the Air Force’s F-35A Joint Strike Fighter facilities at RAAF Base Williamtown.  Construction started in November 2014, with all works required to support the arrival of the first F-35A in 2018 on track for completion. I would like to again thank our defence colleagues in the Estate & Infrastructure Group and industry partners for their efforts in the successful delivery of this facility.

Earlier this month, the United States (US) announced that Australia has won the assignment for the Asia-Pacific F-35 Regional Warehouse as part of the F-35 Global Support Solution (GSS).  BAE Systems Australia was announced as the successful company, with the warehouse planned for Williamtown. Assignment does not represent a contract, but is instead an opportunity for BAE Systems Australia to engage stakeholders to develop a plan for the establishment of a warehouse. Assignment does show that the United States is confident that Australian Defence Industry is internationally competitive for storage and management of spares for the most advanced 5th generation multi-role combat fighter.  Australian industry is punching above its weight in the global F-35 Program including winning industry awards for performance.  More information on these, plus other recent Australian F-35 milestones, are available below.

As we move through September, our eyes are firmly on setting up the environment ready to welcome our first two Australian F-35As for permanent basing at Williamtown in December 2018. Early September will see Defence come together with Australian Industry, the US F-35 Joint Program Office, Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney for a significant event to progress planning for depot airframe maintenance at Williamtown. This activity will help ensure that Williamtown facilities are set up by December 2018 to support F-35 maintenance for not only Australian aircraft, but for F-35 aircraft from other nations requiring this service in the Asia-Pacific region. This depot will part of the F-35 GSS which will service the planned 3,100 plus F-35 aircraft worldwide.

Australia as a global F-35 Partner intends to leverage the GSS as much as possible to benefit from the economies of scale, commonality and interoperability that a global system can provide. Defence has identified some sustainment requirements to be sourced outside the GSS for Australian sovereign capability, national security, self-reliance or other factors that are strategically important. Significant work is underway as we work out the best way to satisfy the sovereign requirements against what can be provided from the GSS.

The rest of the year will be busy with the F-35A Integrated Training Centre building scheduled for completion in November 2017, which will form part of Number 2 Operational Conversion Unit (2OCU). This will be a significant event as we propel into 2018 with more facilities work completed and handed over to Defence, ready for F-35A arrival.

Finally, but most importantly, a word on people.  The most advanced technology cannot be delivered or put to practice without a dedicated, skilled and aligned team of people.  I would like to congratulate GPCAPT Ian Nesbitt on his achievements during his tenure as the Australian National Deputy within the F-35 Joint Program Office in Washington. GPCAPT Nesbitt was presented with the Legion of Merit award, endorsed by the President of the United States and authorised by the Act of Congress.  The Legion of Merit award is for demonstrating leadership, exemplary foresight and ceaseless efforts that resulted in significant contributions to the effectiveness and success of the F-35 Program. Well done and congratulations Ian!

Last month we welcomed Ms Cate Caldwell to the JSF Division team as the new Director of Industry. Cate will be working with us to further grow and strengthen opportunities for Australian industry participation in the F-35 Program.

As a final note, the F-35A capability will be optimised through successful integration into a changing Australian Defence environment.  We will rely on all parts of Defence providing their expertise and input to ensure we can transform to allow Australia to exploit this fifth generation capability to Australia’s advantage, working independently or as part of a coalition. Thank you for your continued efforts and interest in the success of this game-changing Program.

AVM Leigh Gordon Signature image 

Please find links to the latest Australian F-35 Project news: 

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F-35 Program Passes 100,000 flying hours

15 August 2017: As the global F-35 Program surpasses 100,000 flying hours, the Australian F-35A Project is counting down with less than 500 days until the first two Australian F-35A aircraft arrive for permanent basing in Australia.



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Australian-made tail installed on Australian F-35A fighter

7 August 2017: The third Australian F-35A Joint Strike Fighter received its Australian made vertical tail as it nears production completion.




Third F-35A forges ahead

19 July 2017: Air Force’s third Australian F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (A35-003) is progressing along the production line in the United States.




 Christopher Pyne image

Double win for Queensland’s Heat Treatment Australia

12 July 2017: Export opportunities for Australian industry continue to soar as Brisbane company Heat Treatment Australia (HTA) achieves two exciting milestones with two of the largest global defence companies – Lockheed Martin and BAE Systems.



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F-35A Off-Board Information Systems Centre opened at RAAF Base Williamtown

5 July 2017: Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, opened the Off Board Information Systems Centre (OBISC)—the first of the RAAF’s F-35A Joint Strike Fighter facilities—at RAAF Williamtown, which represents $16 million of the $770 million of works currently underway at the base.



Australian company world leader in global supply chain image

Australian company world-leader in global supply chain

14 June 2017: Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, congratulated Lovitt Technologies Australia (Lovitt) on its performance in being selected in Lockheed Martin Aeronautics’ top two per cent of suppliers for 2016 globally.