Defence recently signed a five-year contract with BAE Systems Australia for the provision of support to Royal Australian Air Force F-35A Lightning II operations.
CAPTION: One of latest F-35A Lightning II aircraft (A35-040) arrives back to RAAF Base WIlliamtown after ferrying from the United States. Story by Alisha Welch. Photo by Sergeant David Gibbs.
The F-35A air vehicle support services (AVSS) contract is worth more than $80 million and provides critical supplementation for the maintenance and logistics workforce, as well as supply-chain support for the Australian F‑35A fleet at RAAF bases Williamtown and Tindal.
Officer Commanding Air Combat Systems Program Office, Group Captain Al Wherrett, said the contract represented a significant milestone as the first direct sovereign sustainment support contract between Defence and BAE Systems Australia for F‑35A support.
“This contract will provide the necessary technical and logistics support directly where it’s needed, and thereby help Air Force assure the F-35A capability,” Group Captain Wherrett said.
BAE Systems Australia will provide up to 46 staff under the AVSS contract, who will be embedded within 81 Wing providing direct, on-the-ground support, side by side with Air Force technical and logistics personnel.
“This will alleviate pressure on Air Force personnel allowing them to focus on their core operational duties,” Group Captain Al Wherrett said.
Specifically, the AVSS contract will provide:
- personnel to undertake aircraft wash and off-aircraft operational maintenance for wheels, tyres, batteries, canopy and ground support equipment
- personnel to undertake a range of supply support functions in the F-35A squadrons and the F-35A retail warehouse at RAAF Base Williamtown
- services for the procurement, management and provision of general use consumable items to support F-35A squadron operations.
The Australian Government has approved the acquisition of 72 F-35A Lighting II aircraft to replace the F/A-18A/B Hornet fleet.
To date, 45 jets have been delivered to Australia and the full fleet is on track to be delivered by the end of 2023.