A $100 million aircraft coating facility will be built at Newcastle Airport to maintain the stealth of Australia’s F-35A Lightning II aircraft that are stored at Williamtown.
The facility will be established in partnership with BAE Systems Australia who are responsible for the maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade activities for Australia’s fleet of 72 F35-A aircraft.
The facility will be a dedicated stealth coating facility, applying special paint to the aircraft that helps maintain their stealth characteristics to ensure they are hard to see on an adversary’s radar.
Without the new facility to paint the jets, the aircraft have to return to the United States to maintain their coating.
In the construction phase, the project will provide more than 100 jobs and will be finalised by the end of this year ready for construction to start in mid-2024.
The new facility will create up to 25 jobs, adding to the team of around 360 workers that already sustain the F-35As at Newcastle Airport.
Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy said the investment is a vote of confidence in the Hunter region that ensures these world-class aircraft will operate and be sustained from Newcastle Airport for decades to come.
“The Hunter community can be proud to be playing a vital role in sustaining this critical defence capability not only for Australia, but also for the region.
“Defence industry in the Hunter and across Australia is already making a significant contribution to the F-35 program and this will continue to grow in the years ahead.”
The sustainment and upgrades at Newcastle over the next 30 years will support up to 750 direct and indirect jobs across Australia. So far, more than 70 Australian companies have had contracts contributing to the F-35 program.