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BAE to Expand Australian F-35 Maintenance Center in Hunter Valley

Australia has awarded BAE Systems a contract to expand the country’s F-35 sustainment hub in Newcastle Airport, Hunter Valley.

The agreement is part of Canberra’s effort to establish an Indo-Pacific center supporting the F-35 Lightning II fighter jet operability of the nation and its allies.

The award, valued at $110 million Australian dollars ($75.3 million), followed an initial $68.4 million announced in November 2022.

Additional Bays

According to the Australian Department of Defence, the latest funding will enable the construction of seven more maintenance bays at the site.

The contract, including last year’s contract for four bays at the airport’s South Hangar, will increase the facilities to 13.

The agency wrote that the project will further secure the hub’s capability to serve the increasing F-35 fleet in the Royal Australian Air Force and other Lightning II users.

Work for the initiative is scheduled for completion by 2026.

A technician (middle left) loads a BLU-111 (AUS) aerial bomb onto an F-35A Lightning II aircraft.
The investment will boost Australia’s production of the BLU-111 (AUS) aerial bombs. Photo: CPL Craig Barrett/Australian Defence Force

“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,” Australian Defence Industry Minister Pat Conroy stated.

“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.”

Increasing Workforce

BAE said that by 2025, it would directly hire 350 experts in addition to approximately 750 personnel to boost the F-35 sustainment workforce in Australia.

“Working with the Commonwealth to expand our capabilities to support the F-35 fleet is an important growth engine that will provide hundreds of jobs for people across the Hunter for decades to come,” BAE Systems Australia Defence Delivery Managing Director Andrew Gresham stated.

The current global F-35 fleet will increase to over 3,000 aircraft, according to Australia.

In Canberra, 63 of 72 planned F-35s have been inducted to date. All are stationed in Bases Tindal and Williamtown and will be maintained and upgraded at the Hunter site.

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