Opinion: Hunter industry integral to supporting fighter’s future

Early next week the first of the Royal Australian Air Force 72 F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters to be permanently based in Australia will arrive at RAAF Williamtown.

This will mark the culmination of a two decade-long procurement program to secure the Air Force’s Hornet replacement through the procurement of and investment in a 5th Generation fighter aircraft.

A key facet of the procurement was Australian industry involvement in the global manufacturing and supply chain and that our F-35 force would be maintained in Australia throughout their 30+ year service life. This has been achieved, with NSW companies such as Varley, Quickstep, Partech Systems, CAE Australia and many others providing parts that will go into every one of the many thousands of F-35 aircraft to be built in the decades to come.

These companies and others will also have a long-term role in supporting the F-35s. This is a major thrust of the NSW Government’s Defence and Industry Strategy, to ensure that NSW industry is ready, willing and capable of supporting the men and women of the Australian Defence Force (ADF).The NSW Government is committed to supporting the businesses that support our defence force.

With RAAF Williamtown to be the heart of Australia’s F-35 force, Hunter companies will play a crucial role in the long-term future of the Air Force’s newest aircraft.

While the RAAF will undertake daily operational support of the aircraft, the Australian F-35 fleet will need ongoing operational and deeper maintenance in the Hunter.

It’s for this reason that the NSW Government has worked with the Commonwealth and industry to create the right conditions for the defence industry to thrive in the Hunter and the state.

We’ve committed funding to start the development of Astra Aerolab precinct in Newcastle, expected to create up to 5500 jobs in the region.

This precinct will create a space where aerospace, education and advanced manufacturing can collaborate and will house maintenance and support services for RAAF F-35s.

Similarly, F-35 manufacturer Lockheed Martin has worked closely with the NSW government to build the skills and capabilities to support the F-35 in the Hunter, partnering with Regional Development Australia Hunter to develop a highly-skilled STEM trained workforce to provide long-term support for the F-35 and other defence capabilities in the region and beyond.

Full article can be found at: www.newcastleherald.com.au/story/5796792/regions-crucial-role-in-fighters-future