Tank contract is turbo boost for hi-tech jobs in Ipswich
IPSWICH is the focus of a hi-tech jobs boom, with Amberley company TAE securing a contract to refresh engines for Australian Army combat tanks.
With TAE already working on engines from the RAAF's fast jet program, the addition of the AGT1500 engine program was about improving productivity for the company.
The company already employs 110 staff at Amberley, CEO Andrew Sanderson said it will also begin working on the soon-to-arrive F35 jet fighter from December 2018.
Mr Anderson said he would 'love' to see more jobs in Ipswich, with many of the current technical staff an 'ageing workforce'.
"We are going to have to replace, retrain or qualify our technical workforce, we already have four new apprentices coming in."
"We are a commercial enterprise, we need to win work from our competitors," said Andrew Sanderson, CEO of TAE.
Tracing its roots to maintaining the Pratt and Whitney engines of the iconic F-111 fighter bomber fleet, TAE has worked hard to establish itself as the preferred company for Air Force fast jet operators around the Asia-Pacific region.
"We started in 2000, working on F-111 support engineering, then in 20006 we over the engine workshop from the RAAF."
Additional contracts followed, with the RAAF F-18 Hornet engines added in 2006, the F/A-18 Super Hornets in 2010, and then the latest deal to work on the Army's Abram tanks.
"This was a good fit, it allowed us to make greater use of our tooling and machinery."
Unlike other military tanks, the Abrams uses a gas turbine, similar to a jet engine, rather than a traditional piston engine.
Already the company's growth focus is paying off, with the Malaysian Air Force sending engines to be refurbished at Amberley.
"We produce engines that are the envy of the world among F-18 Hornet , we are a world leader in reliability, we are highly regarded."