F35 Facilities to Expand at Williamtown.
The Government has recently extended its collaboration with BAE Systems Australia, signing stage two of a facility services deed valued at $110 million. This is in addition to the initial commitment of $100 million made in 2022. Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy emphasized that doubling the investment with BAE Systems Australia will solidify Hunter Valley’s position as an F-35 sustainment hub in the Indo-Pacific.
The increased funding will empower BAE Systems Australia to construct seven additional maintenance bays, boosting the overall capacity to 13 bays. This expansion aims to accommodate the growing F-35 fleet in the Indo-Pacific region. Newcastle Airport might also play a role in supporting a global F-35 fleet, projected to surpass 3,000 aircraft.
This development follows the initial facility services deed signed in November 2022, focusing on the construction of four new F-35 maintenance bays at BAE Systems Australia’s South Hangar, Newcastle Airport. Currently, 63 out of Australia’s 72 F-35A Lightning II aircraft have been accepted, with all 72 scheduled for sustenance and upgrades at the Hunter facility.
Minister Conroy highlighted that this contract extension more than doubles the government’s initial investment, showcasing the commitment to fostering the defence industry. He emphasized Australia’s role as a crucial provider of maintenance and sustainment services for the global F-35 fleet, with the Hunter designated as an Indo-Pacific hub for F-35 repair and maintenance.
A spokesperson from BAE Systems Australia revealed the company’s expansion at Williamtown to meet the demands of the growing RAAF F-35A fleet. The North Hangar construction program will add up to seven new hangar bays for F-35 sustainment, aligning with the broader expansion plan that includes the establishment of an Aircraft Coating Facility for future F-35 fleet sustainment.