Australian Government supports Quickstep in Joint Strike Fighter Program

Ottobrunn, (PresseBox) - Australian advanced materials company Quickstep Holdings Limited (QHL) is pleased to announce that it has received significant support from the Australian Federal Government to underpin its involvement in the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program and the imminent commencement of manufacturing of JSF components at its newly established facility in Bankstown, NSW.

The Australian Government through its export credit agency, Export Finance & Insurance Corporation (EFIC), is to provide an Export Finance Guarantee under its National Interest Account. The guarantee has enabled Quickstep Technologies Pty Ltd to negotiate a loan facility agreement with Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited ("ANZ").The facility will be used to fund the purchase of capital equipment and intellectual property to manufacture and supply composite parts required to fulfill project supply contracts for the JSF program.

The loan facility comprises a $10 million loan plus up to $3.3 million in capitalised interest. It has a maximum term of 10 years, subject to earlier refinancing after multi-year F-35 JSF production contracts are awarded. The loan will have an availability period of four years. Repayments of principal will be over five years, commencing in year five.

The loan is secured by a charge over the assets of Quickstep Technologies Pty Ltd, the subsidiary undertaking this work. .

Quickstep's Managing Director, Mr Philippe Odouard, said he was very pleased with the strong support being provided by EFIC and the ANZ, which reflected the strategic nature and significance of the emerging composites manufacturing industry in Australia and the importance of the JSF program.

"The ANZ facility enabled by EFIC comes at an exciting time for Quickstep, with the Company on track to deliver on the first purchase order for F-35 Group 1 parts and the re-development of our new Bankstown facility in New South Wales well underway," Mr Odouard said.

"The Federal Government's support assists Quickstep to supply some of the most advanced composite components in the world to one of the most advanced aircraft in the world. This loan provides Quickstep with the required financial strength to contribute to the JSF global supply chain as a competitive supplier and will assist in establishing the long term viability of a high technology composites industry in Australia," Mr Odouard said.

"This supports and reinforces our strategy of funding the establishment of our new manufacturing facility at Bankstown using a combination of equity, loans and grants," Mr Odouard said.

"Throughout the past 12 months, we have continued to make excellent progress, and I am pleased to say we have so far met all of our milestones on or ahead of schedule."

Under the Long Term Agreement (LTA) with principal F-35 contractor Northrop Grumman, Quickstep is set to deliver the first F-35 Lightning II parts in 2012, including a large number of composite doors and panels.

"Quickstep will now work towards securing long-term agreements for Group 2 and Group 3 parts, and I am pleased to say that this is progressing well," Mr Odouard said.

Quickstep GmbH

Quickstep is an Australian-based company at the forefront of advanced materials manufacturing and technology transfer for the global aerospace and defence industries.

The use of advanced composites is rapidly growing with carbon material usage planned to increase at an average rate of 20% per annum for the next 10 years, underwritten by the emergence of high-use carbon fibre commercial aircraft such as the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350. Light weighting of vehicles is the prime driver with commercial aircraft and military equipment leading the charge.

Quickstep has significant capabilities and expertise in the production of aerospace-grade composite components using both conventional autoclave-based manufacturing and leading edge out-of-autoclave production technologies, including its proprietary Quickstep Process. Quickstep is set to generate revenue using three distinct business models:

1. Technology transfer through the provision of the proprietary Quickstep Process solutions and production equipment;
2. Manufacture of composite components for aerospace and defence out of its Australian facility; and
3. Conducting paid or self-funded Research & Development on new composite structures.

Quickstep signed two Memorandums of Understanding (MOU’s) in 2009 in relation to manufacturing contracts for the international F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program - the largest military aerospace program in the world, currently valued at in excess of US$300 billion worldwide. The first was signed with global aerospace companies, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, the second MOU was signed with Melbourne-based Marand Precision Engineering to manufacture Vertical Tail skins for the JSF. Both opportunities are expected to equate to many hundreds of millions of dollars over the life of the contract.

Quickstep signed a Long Term Agreement with Northrop Grumman in relation to the first parts we have been allocated under the JSF program in February 2011, with a start date for JSF part delivery set for early 2012. Further contracts for additional parts are expected progressively during 2012.

The Company has a fully-commissioned aerospace-grade manufacturing facility located in North Coogee, Western Australia, and recently announced plans to relocate its manufacturing operations to the former Boeing facility at Bankstown, New South Wales, which offers the scale, resources and utilities necessary to undertake large-scale, long term aerospace manufacturing contracts.

In addition to its Australian operations, Quickstep also has facilities in strategic global locations including North America, Europe and the UK.

The Company is currently partnering with some of the world’s largest aerospace/defence companies, including the US Department of Defense, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Bae Systems, Boeing, Airbus and EADS.

Quickstep is also developing a unique patented process that can deliver high surface finish, low cost fast processing of carbon fibre composite particularly adapted to the automotive industry.

For further information, visit: www.quickstep.com.au



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