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.