Quickstep wins Australian government loan for F-35 composites work

The loan facility agreement will be used to fund the purchase of capital equipment and intellectual property to manufacture and supply composite parts required to fulfill project supply contracts for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

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Australian advanced materials company Quickstep Holdings Ltd. (North Cooggee, Australia ) on Nov. 3 reported that it has received significant support from the Australian Federal Government to underpin its involvement in the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program and the imminent commencement of manufacturing of JSF components at its newly established facility in Bankstown, NSW, Australia.

The Australian government, through its export credit agency, Export Finance & Insurance Corp. (EFIC), is to provide an Export Finance Guarantee under its National Interest Account. The guarantee has enabled Quickstep Technologies Pty. Ltd. to negotiate a loan facility agreement with Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. (ANZ). The facility will be used to fund the purchase of capital equipment and intellectual property to manufacture and supply composite parts required to fulfill project supply contracts for the F-35 JSF program.

The loan facility comprises a $10 million loan, plus up to $3.3 million in capitalised interest. It has a maximum term of 10 years, subject to earlier refinancing after multi-year F-35 JSF production contracts are awarded. The loan will have an availability period of four years. Repayments of principal will be over five years, commencing in year five.

Quickstep’s managing director, Philippe Odouard, said he was very pleased with the strong support being provided by EFIC and the ANZ, which reflected the strategic nature and significance of the emerging composites manufacturing industry in Australia and the importance of the JSF program.

“The ANZ facility enabled by EFIC comes at an exciting time for Quickstep, with the company on track to deliver on the first purchase order for F-35 Group 1 parts and the re-development of our new Bankstown facility in New South Wales well underway,” Odouard said. “The federal government’s support assists Quickstep to supply some of the most advanced composite components in the world to one of the most advanced aircraft in the world. This loan provides Quickstep with the required financial strength to contribute to the JSF global supply chain as a competitive supplier and will assist in establishing the long term viability of a high technology composites industry in Australia.” 

Under the Long Term Agreement (LTA) with principal F-35 contractor Northrop Grumman, Quickstep is set to deliver the first F-35 Lightning II parts in 2012, including a large number of composite doors and panels.

“Quickstep will now work towards securing long-term agreements for Group 2 and Group 3 parts, and I am pleased to say that this is progressing well,” Odouard said. 

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