Construction, manufacturing and various other industries are set to boom as Defence prepares for the arrival of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter squadrons, set to touch down in Australia in 2019.
Expansions, upgrades and new builds are all in the mix for RAAF Bases around the country as part of the New Air Combat Capability (NACC) Facilities Project.
The NACC Project is a $1.6 billion investment into RAAF base facilities at:
• RAAF Base Williamtown (NSW)
• Defence Establishment Myambat (NSW)
• RAAF Base Tindal (NT)
• Forward Operating Bases at RAAF Bases, Townsville (QLD), Darwin (NT), Curtin (WA), Scherger (QLD), Learmonth (WA) and Pearce (WA).
The $1.6 billion boost to local economies is highly anticipated. Businesses around the Top End are currently being briefed about the upcoming work for RAAF Base Tindal, located 15km SE of Katherine in the Northern Territory.
“The briefing sessions will inform businesses in the construction industry on the proposed facilities that have the capacity to inject an estimated $470 million into the Northern Territory construction sector,” said NT Minister for Defence Industries Peter Styles.
“Construction of the new facilities at RAAF Base Tindal will support the new Joint Strike Fighter, accommodate increased United States Air Force activity and improve other Tindal facility upgrades.”
The big winner in regards to local industries is RAAF Base Williamtown (30km north of Newcastle, New South Wales) - set to be the home of the majority of the F-35 JSF’s.
The $1.5 billion base upgrades include:
- 2OCU Complex. 2OCU will provide training to pilot and maintainer trainees in the classroom, simulators and, for pilots, real world flying in F-35As. It will provide pilots and maintainers accepted into the F-35A program with their initial training on the platform. The proposed facility will house squadron working accommodation, maintenance areas to support the flying squadron and two training wings, one for pilot training and one for maintainer training.
- Combined 3 & 77 Squadron Headquarters Facility. A Combined Squadron Headquarters facility is proposed, providing efficiencies and facilitating interoperability. Each squadron will have its own headquarters area to exercise effective command and control of F-35A operations and to prepare for exercises and deployments. Maintenance and operations areas will have similar facilities to the flying squadron area of the 2OCU Complex. Efficiencies will be gained through sharing of some administrative functions between squadrons. Each hangar will include five aircraft spaces in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendation regarding squadron level maintenance.
- Off-Aircraft Maintenance Facility. Off-aircraft maintenance for all three squadrons at RAAF Base Williamtown is proposed to be conducted at a shared facility. Components or elements that can be removed from the aircraft for maintenance, such as engines, wheels, tyres, canopies and batteries will be maintained in this facility.
- Off-Board Information System Centre. The proposed Off-Board Information System Centre is a secure facility that will facilitate through-life support of the off-board information system. It will be a dedicated computer laboratory for secure functions such as the installation of software updates and preparation of equipment for operations and deployments.
- Parking Apron. The proposed parking apron provides a secure area where aircraft are parked when not flying and minor maintenance tasks can be conducted. An aircraft wash facility with two bays will be shared between the three squadrons. One of the bays is proposed to include an engine wash facility.
- Deeper Level Maintenance Facility. Deeper level maintenance is proposed to be conducted in a specialised, contractor-run, facility that will be delivered after 2020 through adaptive re-use of the existing Hornet Upgrade Hangar.
- Low Observability Refresh Facility. The proposed facility will facilitate the testing and painting of the surface finish of the aircraft.
- Runway Works. The safe operation of the aircraft will require improvements to the runways and associated infrastructure at RAAF Base Williamtown. The proposed works include the following:
- Runway Extension;
- Runway Approaches, Airfield Lighting and Navigation Aids; and
- Operational Readiness Platforms.
- Explosive Ordnance Facilities. The proposed explosive ordnance facilities to be delivered include:
- High Explosive Ordnance Preparation Facilities;
- Ammunition and Counter-Measure Preparation Facilities; and
- Ordnance Loading Apron Facilities.
- Engineering Infrastructure. Site engineering infrastructure is proposed to be upgraded to support the facilities being delivered as part of the proposed works and to comply with modern statutory requirements.
- Through Life Support. Through life support for the aircraft system will be provided by the Air Combat Systems Program Office and the Lockheed Martin National Operations Centre.
- Displaced Facilities. The following existing base facilities will be displaced by the siting of the proposed F-35A Operational Precinct and are proposed to be replaced by the project:
- Some access roads;
- Liquid Dry Breathing Oxygen storage; and
- Bureau of Meteorology weather station