Avalon International Airshow – February 26, 2019
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for joining me here today. The 2019 Avalon Airshow is a monumental one for the United States, as it features over 100 U.S.-based firms and their locally-established subsidiaries. This is the largest ever U.S. exhibitor contingent at Avalon, and the impressive number of companies here this year speaks to the many opportunities Australia provides these firms.
I’d like to thank Assistant Minister Fawcett for being here with me today, and for the extensive work he and his colleagues at the Department of Defence do to foster and expand the exceptional U.S.-Australia defense industry partnerships.
I’d also like to acknowledge the Director of Strategic Engagement for Lockheed Martin’s Australia and New Zealand Operations, Mr. Scott Thompson. Lockheed’s extensive engagement with Australian firms is well-chronicled, with the F-35 you see behind me as their latest and perhaps most notable example of a successful partnership. To date, more than 50 Australian companies have shared in over $1.3 billion in global contracts for this aircraft, supporting more than 2,400 jobs nationwide. Not only does this demonstrate the advanced manufacturing capabilities resident in Australia, it demonstrates the trust that we, the U.S., have in our defense relationship with Australia.
Today we have with us eight young Australians representing four small and medium enterprise Australian firms that are integral to the development and manufacturing of the F-35 joint strike fighter. They embody the intelligence, ingenuity, and innovative spirit found in the deep and talented Australian workforce that contributes to both U.S. and Australian security. I want to thank them for being here today to talk about their experiences in this massive endeavor. Their personal stories are exciting and increasingly emblematic of the opportunities for innovation and growth, individually and commercially, through our defense industry partnerships.
The F-35 joint strike fighter is only one example of our broad defense industry engagement. U.S.-based defense firms have invested more than $2.5 billion in their Australia operations, creating more than 7,500 highly-skilled, well-paid jobs and directly supporting another 5,000 through local supply chains. We’re proud of these developments and our investment in Australia’s future, which will contribute to the enduring economic prosperity of our two great nations and will help develop the highly skilled workforce necessary for the 21st Century global economy in both our countries.
And now I’d like to turn things over to Assistant Defence Minister, Senator David Fawcett.
Thank you Minister Fawcett.
You know, when we talk about the “defense partnership” or our “alliance”, what we’re really talking about is people.
And increasingly in this industry, those are young people.
There’s been much written about how the Joint Strike Fighter fits into our military ecosystem, but the untold story of this program so far is that it’s much bigger than just the military. This international project builds skills and career pathways in communities where they’ve never existed before, including right here in Victoria.
It takes local companies, and turns them into internationally-competitive organizations offering 21st-century tech solutions.
We’re joined today by eight young Australians working for these kinds of companies who represent the 21st-Century career pathways that our alliance makes possible.
We have Dean Novello and Vicky Yu Stone from Ronson Gears – a 3rd generation, family-owned business based in Melbourne. Like so many other young Australians, Vicky and Dean both started their careers as apprentices at a local manufacturing company.
However after completing their Fitting and Turning apprenticeships, Dean and Vicky are now working on an international aerospace project in the F-35, which gives them internationally-competitive career skills.
We also have David Campbell from AW Bell – a mechanical engineer responsible for managing the production of part of the Joint Strike Fighter’s hi-tech electro-optical distributed aperture system, which is critical to F-35 combat performance. David’s team manufactures this product on behalf of American defense prime Northrop Grumman, and it accounts for over 40% of AW Bell’s revenue. That’s a lot of responsibility David!
We have Sarah Pope and Kristal Nauta from RUAG Australia – Sarah and Kristal manage multiple manufacturing programs for the F-35 program, and provide engineering solutions for customers worldwide, which has allowed their company to expand its Australian manufacturing capabilities and hire 50 new staff.
I encourage our media friends to talk with these talented young people following the official program today, and hear about the skills and opportunities within the JSF program from the people who live and breathe it every day.
And finally, we also have some young representative from Marand – one of Australia’s leading SMEs contributing to the Joint Strike Fighter. Welcome Marand team.
Marand’s F-35 exports are already measured in the hundreds of millions of dollars, with a further one billion dollars in exports still to come.
Wherever there are F-35s stationed right across the globe, you’ll find a specialist engine change trailer there used to service the jet – and that trailer is engineered and manufactured right here in Australia by Marand.
And their major supply partners on that project are other SMEs based in Australia. It’s an Australian industry team effort.
Marand also manufacture the vertical wing for one third of the world’s Joint Strike Fighters. The jet literally couldn’t fly without the work the Marand team do every day. And we’re very grateful for that work.
But to tell you more about more about that, and what it’s like for young Australians working within this international program, I’d now like to invite a young engineer from Marand to the stage in Byron Hoe.
Come on up Byron.