A F-35A Joint Strike Fighter touches down at its new home base at Williamtown, north of Newcastle in New South Wales.Australia's two most expensive defence projects are facing more delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A parliamentary committee has been told a key milestone on the Future Submarine program has been pushed back, and the eventual cost of building the new fleet could reach $90 billion. Meanwhile, Australia's next batch of Joint Strike Fighter aircraft could also be delayed after US defence company Lockheed Martin foreshadowed a production slowdown for three months due to the coronavirus impact.

PRIME Minister Scott Morrison has downplayed suggestions from US President Donald Trump that work to build the Williamtown-based Joint Strike Fighters should shift back to America. Mr Trump told Fox News that he hopes to end offshore manufacturing of parts for the F35 Joint Strike Fighter, which was an integral part of encouraging nations to buy into the initial Lockheed Martin program.

At the November 2019 supplementary Senate estimates hearing for the Department of Defence, much was made of the number of jobs created among Australia-based companies through their participation in the joint strike fighter (JSF) global supply chain program. Participation involves companies providing sophisticated components and support services for JSF aircraft sold worldwide—not just JSFs purchased by Australia.

We seem to have been both naughty and nice this year. The Australian National Audit Office isn’t going to put its much-anticipated report on the future submarine program in our stocking before Christmas and we’ll have to keep our breath bated until January. That’s a shame, since the ANAO’s website says, ‘The objective of this audit is to examine the effectiveness of Defence’s administration of the Future Submarine program to date...

Image result for Australian head of the Joint Strike FighterThe Australian head of the Joint Strike Fighter program says he is confident the next delivery of the cutting-edge combat aircraft to the RAAF is on track despite a report finding the next batch of planes will not have the most up-to-date technology. Air Vice-Marshal Leigh Gordon told Fairfax Media that doubts raised by the Pentagon‘s test and evaluation office about problems such as software glitches would not affect those due for delivery to the RAAF next year.

Australian company Nupress Tools has won the contract to provide engine component manufacturing the the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Announced by the Minister for Defence Industry, Melissa Price, the $250,000 contract involves the purchase of a machining centre, staff training and systems development to support the manufacture of the complex components.

Related imageThe Morrison Government is backing small businesses in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program by awarding a new contract to Australian company Nupress Tools. The Cardiff-based engineering firm has been awarded $250,000 to purchase a machining centre, train staff and develop systems for aerospace engine component manufacturing.

Image result for Royal Australian Air Force’s F-35A Joint Strike Fighters has quadrupled since the introduction of the GBU-39/B Small Diameter BombThe capability of the Royal Australian Air Force’s F-35A Joint Strike Fighters has quadrupled since the introduction of the GBU-39/B Small Diameter Bomb (SDB), according to the government. Introduced into No 3 Sqn in June 2019, the SDB Increment 1 (SDB1) weapon is a 16kg weapon guided by GPS-aided inertial navigation, utilising so-called ‘diamondback’ wings that deploy after release to provide greater stand-off range, and four bombs are fitted to new bomb release unit racks before loading on the aircraft.

An F-35 fighter jet landing at the Payerne Air Base in Switzerland. Picture: Fabrice Coffrini/AFPThe world’s most lethal weapon is so impressive that Australia committed to purchase 72 of them. But the $17 billion investment to arm the Australian Defence Force with F-35 Joint Strike Fighters is behind schedule and plagued with a host of new problems that put pilots at risk and the entire program under a cloud. According to documents seen by US military journal Defense News, 13 new category 1 problems have been identified.

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