Small Victorian manufacturer wins $2.5m US Navy contract

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The US Navy has awarded a $2.46 million contract to a Victorian small business to produce 22 specialized work stands that allow technicians to safely access the Navy’s P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol aircraft.

Minister for Defence Sector Melissa Price said the deal with AirFab, based in Ferntree Gully, Melbourne, underlined the tremendous export opportunities that the Royal Australian Air Force and the US Navy have created for Australia’s defence industry.

“These work stands are designed to withstand harsh environments like those experienced at forward operating bases, and have integrated safety features to protect personnel,” Minister Price said.

“AirFab developed the work stand design in partnership with the Royal Australian Air Force and the US Navy to meet the unique requirements of the P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol aircraft.

“Working with Royal Australian Air Force gave AirFab direct engagement with the US Navy that an Australian small business would not normally have had access to.”

The work stands for the Wide-Band Satellite Telecommunications System are custom-built to allow personnel to safely access the P-8A Wide-Band Satellite Communication station and undertake fuselage checks without overextending themselves.

Member for Aston Alan Tudge said materials used in the stands were Australian made, with the steel and aluminium sourced from local manufacturers.

“The export opportunity not only provides direct growth to AirFab but allows for residual employment and training to more than 20 small and medium sized companies that AirFab works with,” Mr Tudge added.

AirFab is also manufacturing eight work stands for the Royal Australian Air Force’s P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol aircraft fleet, in addition to the 22 work stands for the US Navy.

“The purpose built work stands will allow technicians to access the P-8A Wide-band Satellite Communication station and to safely conduct fuselage inspections without overextending,” Minister Price said.

“This contract recognises that Australia’s Defence industry is capable of producing and exporting high-quality safety equipment for not only our Australian Defence personnel but to our allies.”

Image credit: https://images.defence.gov.au/assets/Home/Search?Query=20200918adf8609651_1.jpg&Type=Filename