A Queensland firm will hugely increase the amount of maintenance work it carries out on the F414 engines used in RAAF’s F/A-18F Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers, writes Stephen Kuper.
TAE Aerospace is an Australian local industry partner of General Electric, and has shifted its proportion of “deeper maintenance work” on the engines from 25 per cent to 85 per cent in just five years.
Defence Minister Linda Reynolds explained the move demonstrates the opportunities available for Australian businesses to be involved in delivering critical Defence capabilities.
“This is a significant increase in Australian content in only five years and is yet another demonstration of the capabilities that exist in Australia. TAE is 100 per cent Australian owned, with about 220 employees at several sites across Australia, and holds additional contracts to maintain the engines for M1 Abram tanks and F-35A Lightning II aircraft,” Minister Reynolds said.
TAE’s involvement has led to innovation in the maintenance of the F414 engines by developing repairs for components, which would previously have been thrown away when they failed.
Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price welcomed the announcement and said this recognition of TAE’s approach has not only reduced costs, it has also improved engine availability for the Air Force.
“This is the first time Australian industry has supported the US Navy engine fleet. The locally developed solutions have been so successful that GEII is now working with TAE to export these unique, Australian developed repairs to support the US Navy’s F414 engine fleet,” Price explained.
Air Force has 24 F/A-18F Super Hornets, which are based at Number 1 Squadron at RAAF Base Amberley. Meanwhile, Australia’s fleet of 11 EA-18G Growlers will be based at RAAF Base Amberley and operate in conjunction with the air, land and sea forces.
Initially purchased alongside the more traditional Super Hornet variants to supplement Australia’s ageing fleet of classic Hornets and the diminished strike capability following the retirement of the F-111s, prior to the full integration of the Air Force’s 72 planned F-35s, IOC is expected to be delivered to the RAAF in the coming months.
Australia’s Growlers were part of a larger US Navy buy of 44 Super Hornets and Growlers in July 2014, with the first Australian EA-18G making its first flight in July 2015.