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  • Bonfire Of The SMEs
    Posted by Bill Sweetman 12:45 PM on Dec 01, 2010

    Some Joint Strike Fighter suppliers could go out of business if the planned production ramp-up is further delayed, a Pratt & Whitney representative said in Washington on Tuesday, and the company is already steering other work to some of them to help keep them afloat.

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    "We're focusing on a lot of small to medium enterprises," business development vice-president Ed O'Donnell says. "If volumes come down, they can't recoup the investments that they have made, and perhaps are no longer viable."

    O'Donnell cited one family-owned business, Production Parts Pty in Australia, which made "a substantial investment because they expected production volumes to be twice what they are today." Production Parts itself, he added, has enough other business to keep going, but others are not so well off.

    "What I hear is people saying 'Can you give us something to show that the program is continuing to go forward? Because we have a banker knocking on our door'. No suppliers have died yet," O'Donnell adds, and in some cases Pratt & Whitney has "leveraged our large volume of commercial work" to sustain SMEs because of the expense and delay that would result from a failure.

    So far, however, Lockheed Martin is still wooing new suppliers with lofty market projections, such as this one from a recent brief to Canadian industry:

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    In Tuesday's briefing, Bennett Croswell, P&W vice-president for F135/F119 programs, said that the company has "been clear that there wasn't a government competition" to power the JSF, and that the claims that there was a competition rest on the individual choices made by prime contractors for their demonstrator aircraft.

    Croswell also said that there is a target cost for the complete STOVL propulsion system, but that Pratt & Whitney is not going to disclose it. For the CV/CTOL engine, the company and the JSF Program Office have set a goal of matching the cost of the F119 by engine number 250, which on current plans would be delivered in the LRIP-8 batch of 150-plus aircraft - that is, three times the F119 production rate.

    Tags: ar99, jsf, f135, tacair

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