The Australian Government will build an aircraft coating facility at Newcastle Airport to maintain the stealth of Australia’s fleet of F-35A Lightning II aircraft.
At Australia’s first dedicated stealth coating facility, special paint will be applied to the aircraft to help maintain their stealth characteristics to ensure they are hard to see on an adversary’s radar. This work is vital for Australia’s air combat capability.
The new facility will be established in partnership with BAE Systems Australia, which is responsible for the maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade activities for Australia’s fleet of 72 F-35A Lightning II aircraft.
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.
The design for the coating facility is due to be finalised by the end of this year, with construction to start in mid-2024. The facility will cost more than $100 million and will provide more than 100 jobs in the construction phase.
To date, only Australian F-35As have undergone maintenance by BAE at Newcastle Airport. The new coating facility will be able to support the maintenance of other F-35 fleets operating in the Indo-Pacific, transforming Newcastle Airport into a regional hub.
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. In addition to BAE Systems Australia, other companies in the Hunter region that have contributed to this success are the Nupress Group and Varley Group.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Defence Industry, Pat Conroy:
“This 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.”