Hunter Valley on Track to Become Regional F-35 Aircraft Sustainment Hub

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The Hon Pat Conroy MP

Minister for Defence Industry

Minister for International Development and the Pacific

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Karlis Salna - 0435 521 326


Defence Media

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27 December 2023

The Hunter Valley’s future as the Indo-Pacific hub for sustainment of F-35 Lightning II aircraft has been secured after the Australian Government doubled its initial investment with BAE Systems Australia.

The Government last month signed stage two of a facility services deed with BAE Systems Australia worth $110 million, which is in addition to its initial first stage commitment of $100 million announced last year.

The funding boost will enable BAE Systems Australia to build seven more maintenance bays to increase overall capacity to 13 bays to help service the growing F-35 fleet in the Indo-Pacific.

This means Newcastle Airport will be equipped to service Australia’s F-35A Lightning II fleet and could potentially be used by other nations to sustain and service a global F-35 fleet that’s expected to reach more than 3,000 aircraft.

This latest announcement comes after the Government signed the first facility services deed with BAE Systems Australia in November 2022 to build four new F-35 maintenance bays at BAE Systems Australia’s South Hangar, Newcastle Airport.

Sixty-three of Australia’s 72 F-35A Lightning II aircraft have been accepted to date. All 72 of Australia’s F-35A aircraft, based in RAAF Base Williamtown and RAAF Base Tindal, will be sustained and upgraded at the Hunter facility.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Defence Industry, Pat Conroy:

“This contract extension more than doubles our initial investment in the F-35 sustainment hub at Williamtown and underscores the Albanese Government’s commitment to growing our defence industry.

“Crucially, this contract secures jobs for people across the Hunter and nationally for decades to come. It also ensures the Hunter Valley’s future as a hub for the sustainment of Australian aircraft, and potentially from other nations.

“The Albanese Government is continuing to invest in Australian industry, with more than 50% of acquisition and sustainment spent in Australia this financial year - a record number.

“Australian defence industry is already a vital contributor of maintenance and sustainment services for the global F-35 fleet, which is expected to reach more than 3,000 aircraft. Establishing the Hunter as an Indo-Pacific hub for F-35 repair and maintenance is a testament to the high level of skills and knowledge among our defence industry workforce.”

For more information about Australia’s F-35A capability, visit: F-35A Lightning II | Air Force

MEDIA NOTE:

Media can access imagery here: F-35A Lightning II aircraft

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