FAMILY-owned and Elizabeth-based South Australian company Levett Engineering has attracted global attention after securing a $200m contract to supply parts for the world’s most lethal aircraft – the F35 Lightning II.
Also known at the Joint Strike Fighter, versions of the fifth-generation warplane will form the mainstay of several national air forces over the next 50 years.
Owner and managing director Paul Levett said doors were already opening up internationally as a result of the contract.
“We travelled to Fort Worth, Texas in the United States last week and we were surprised by the opportunities that we were being exposed to,’’ he said.
“Being identified as a direct supplier to one of the world’s largest aero nautical companies in Lockheed Martin, it displays our credibility and confirms our quality approved, global aerospace standard.
“While the $200 million contract for the F35s is a great boon and we are extremely excited about it, in reality it is dwarfed by the commercial opportunities that will now become available to us.
“Just Boeing alone will soon be upping their production of 737 aircraft from 30 a month – which is one a day – to 42 a month.
“We currently generate around $5 million in revenue annually but I can see that jumping to $25 to $30 million in the next five years. And I think that could be a modest estimate because now we are operating at this level it exposes us to so many more opportunities.’’
Mr Levett says the company was not an overnight success, starting up in 1989 and realising any profits would be long term.
“There were plenty of times when I wondered if it was worth it and worth the investment,’’ he said.
“But I have a passion for engineering and we just kept believing in ourselves.’’
“In the near future we will be looking for local manufacturing partners to assist us, which means more manufacturing and more jobs in South Australia and growing the supply chain locally.’’
The first F-35A aircraft will arrive in Australia in 2018 and are expected to enter service with the Royal Australian Air Force by 2021.
Photo courtesy of Cherry Point Air Station.