Defence and Lockheed Martin Australia have signed a direct commercial sale contract for the delivery of Royal Australian Air Force sovereign F-35 Training Support Services (TSS).
FILE PHOTO (Dec 2018): A35-009 taxis into its home compound at RAAF Base Williamtown for the first time. Photo by Brian Hartigan.
The three-year $67.6m contract will support 60 existing F-35 training and support roles at the F-35 Integrated Training Centre at RAAF Base Williamtown and establish a satellite F-35 training capability at RAAF Base Tindal with additional long-term skilled roles.
The contract will be delivered by Lockheed Martin Australia with support from Williamtown-based air combat training specialist Milskil, representing a combined sovereign capability that includes pilot instructors, maintenance instructors, courseware developers, training device technicians and IT support.
Chief Executive of Lockheed Martin Australia and New Zealand Joe North said the company was committed to developing long-term partnerships with the Department of Defence and Australian industry to build resilient sovereign capabilities.
“This TSS contract ensures the world-class sovereign F-35 training support services solution we developed with Milskil is sustained for a further three years, while further solidifying RAAF Base Williamtown as Lockheed Martin’s largest F-35 base presence outside of the US,” he said.
“We look forward to expanding the F-35 enterprise in Australia and working with Milskil in establishing the new F-35 training capability at RAAF Base Tindal, with recruiting for up to five new roles scheduled to commence in 2021.”
Milskil Chief Executive Officer Grant Iddon confirmed the partnership with Lockheed Martin as the F-35 original equipment manufacturer and lead sustainment partner globally had been crucial to establishing a world-class training capability at the F-35 Integrated Training Centre.
“Milskil has been providing operational training to the RAAF’s Air Combat Group for nearly 20 years”, he said.
“Since being selected in early 2018 to provide support training services for the RAAF F-35 program we have worked in close partnership with Lockheed Martin Australia to grow and develop critical sovereign capability.
“As an Australian-owned company we are proud to play a key role in the sustainment of this transformative 5th-generation air combat training capability for the Royal Australian Air Force.”
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said this contract included the operation and maintenance support for six F-35A full-mission simulators at RAAF Base Williamtow with plans to install four more simulators at RAAF Base Tindal in 2021.
“The simulators at RAAF Bases Williamtown and Tindal will have the ability to be networked together and share mission data to greatly enhance training,” she said.
Although we deduced it was so, today’s joint ministerial press release was the first official pronouncement of “RAAF’s withdrawal from pilot training arrangements at Luke Air Force Base in the United States, bringing training arrangements back to Australia”.
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said Defence had already trained nine Australian pilots in the existing four simulators at the RAAF Base Williamtown Integrated Training Centre during 2020.
“With the six simulators in place by end 2020, all initial Australian F-35A pilot training will occur through the RAAF Base Williamtown Integrated Training Centre,” she said.