The Australian government has signed a Facility Services Deed worth more than $100 million with BAE Systems Australia to expand the F-35A depot maintenance capability at Newcastle Airport.
FILE PHOTO: Joint Strike fighter A35-11 departs for a night sortie from RAAF Base Williamtown. Photo by Corporal Craig Barrett.
This deed will see expansion from two to six maintenance bays, enabling BAE Systems Australia to progressively meet forecasted service and maintenance demands for Australia’s F-35A Lightning II fleet.
Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy said this expansion would be accompanied with an increase in workforce in the Hunter, as the sustainment phase for the F-35 program continues to be established.
“The construction at BAE System Australia’s existing South Hangar facility at Newcastle Airport site will provide opportunities for local jobs, to local suppliers and subcontractors,” Minister Conroy said.
“All 72 F-35A jets will be sustained and upgraded at this facility in Newcastle over the next three decades, bringing opportunities and jobs to the region for years to come.
“Australia’s participation in the F-35 Global program continues to deliver significant benefits to the Hunter region and broader national economy,” Minister Conroy said.
“To date, more than 70 Australian companies have won more than $3 billion in production and sustainment contracts as part of the global F-35 Program.”
Fifty-seven F-35A Lightning II jets have been accepted by Australia to date with the full fleet of 72 on track to be delivered by the end of 2023.
The Australian government is currently considering the next stage of the project which will look to support further expansion of the Hunter maintenance depot beyond six bays from 2026.