BAE Systems Australia will advance its defence presence in Australia, with the US government assigning the prime the role of the F-35 regional warehouse for the Asia-Pacific region.
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The new assignment, located at Williamtown, has an estimated value of $300 million in operations and infrastructure over the life of the F-35 program and is expected to create 10-15 jobs in Newcastle.
The regional warehousing capability will support global F-35 enterprise with the supply of aircraft parts for Australia’s F-35 aircraft and other F-35 user nations operating in the broader Asia-Pacific region. At Williamtown, the company has an established, low cost warehouse solution that is ready today and scalable to support F-35 operations in the Asia-Pacific region.
BAE Systems Australia expects that, together with other F-35 assignments, more than 200 jobs will be created.
Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne welcomed the news, saying its successful bid has showcased Australia as a leading F-35 partner.
"The warehouse will provide spares to all operational units in the region – whether the Joint Strike Fighter squadrons are from Australia, or visiting squadrons on deployment from other parts of the world," Minister Pyne said.
"I congratulate BAE Systems Australia for being assigned this key role in the F-35 Global Support Solution."
The announcement builds on previous F-35 assignments made by the US government. In 2015, BAE Systems was announced as the Regional F-35 Heavy Airframe Depot provider in the southern Pacific and, in 2016, Australia secured the component maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade assignment, comprising 64 out of 65 of available F-35 components in the first tranche of repair assignments.
BAE Systems Australia is the lead company to support avionics, digital mission systems and life support components and will support Australia's partners to deliver electrical power systems and composite repair capabilities.
BAE Systems history as a fast jet sustainment provider to the Australian Defence Force and the company’s proximity to RAAF Base Williamtown, coupled with the Regional F-35 Airframe Depot assignment and military aircraft logistics experience, including warehouse and distribution operations, provides the Joint Strike Fighter Project Office (JPO) with a dependable, low-risk solution to support the global support solution.
"The assignment reflects the capability and skills of our current workforce and the extensive experience of our employees in fast jet military operations and managing global supply chains over a number of decades," said BAE Systems Australia chief executive Glynn Phillips.
"We will support the smooth introduction into service of the F-35 as the regional fleet grows; providing a scalable and timely logistics and warehouse solution that delivers F-35 capability to the Royal Australian Air Force."
The F-35 project has been a lucrative venture for Australian industry, with more than $800 million in contracts from F-35 design and production work achieved so far.
"[This] announcement is the next step in Australia capitalising on opportunities in the F-35 global supply chains and recognises Australia as a key strategic partner in the global F-35 Program," said Minister Pyne.
Currently, Victoria is leading the way with a total of six companies contributing to the F-35 project – Marand, Lovitt, Cablex, AW Bell, RUAG and BAE Systems Australia, which has offices in both Victoria and SA.
Australia has ordered 72 F-35As, with potential for a fourth Australian squadron that would bring the number to 100.
The first two JSF's will arrive in Australia in 2018 and in early 2019, RAAF will start verifying and validating processes for operating the F-35A in the Australian context.