Quickstep closer to F-35 composites contract

The signing of a Manufacturing License Agreement allows Northrop Grumman to transfer technical information to Quickstep for the manufacture of F-35 Lightning II composite structures.

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Quickstep Holdings Ltd. (North Coogee, Australia) reported on March 18 that it has taken another key step towards securing manufacturing contracts under the international F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program. The company has signed a Manufacturing License Agreement (MLA) with Northrop Grumman Corp., a subcontractor to Lockheed Martin Corp. in the design and manufacture of the center fuselage for the F-35 Lightning II aircraft.

Quickstep signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman in November 2009 to finalise a Long Term Agreement (LTA) for the manufacture of up to $700 million (AUS) worth of contracts for JSF.

The signing of the MLA provides Northrop Grumman with export approval from the U.S Department of State to begin transferring to Quickstep technical information necessary for the manufacture of the parts to be produced under the MOU.

Under the terms of the MOU, Quickstep would supply 21 different F-35 components. The parts would then be exported to the United States for incorporation into F-35s globally. The manufacturing program is planned to last between 20 and 30 years and generate annual turnover of up to $50 million by 2015.

Preparations for the start of manufacturing are progressing in line with the timetable agreed to with Northrop Grumman, with Quickstep proceeding well with the employment of new key staff members and the acquisition of necessary equipment to be able to commence production as planned in 2012. Preparation for parts and process qualification prior to production is also proceeding on schedule.

Commenting on the announcement, Quickstep chief executive Philippe Odouard, said, “The signing of this Manufacturing License Agreement will establish an essential transfer of data between Quickstep and Northrop Grumman to enable Quickstep to complete the final preparations for the planned signing of the Long Term Agreement for F-35 manufacturing in the second quarter of 2010. This is a key step for Quickstep along the road to aerospace manufacturing.”