Defence Minister Linda Reynolds and Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price have announced the launch of a new industry support program to assist Australian companies in becoming established in the sustainment phase of the global F-35 Program.
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds announced the Joint Strike Fighter – Industry Support Program (JSF-ISP) on Wednesday, with $4 million initially available in grant funding to establish the program. As the F-35 program progresses, options to extend this funding will be explored.
“The JSF-ISP sustainment opportunity will support Australian companies that have been successfully appointed by the United States Department of Defense for component repair capability as part of the F-35 Global Support Solution,” Minister Reynolds explained.
“The JSF-ISP is another example of the government’s commitment to building a robust sovereign defence industry capability through our $270 billion investment.”
Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price said grants would help companies become established in the F-35 production and supply chain.
“Since July 2011, the New Air Combat Capability – Industry Support Program has awarded 46 grants worth more than $21 million to 25 Australian companies. This investment has helped more than 50 Australian companies win contracts worth over $2.7 billion as part of the F-35 Program to date,” Minister Price explained.
Minister Price added, “The JSF-ISP has been developed to help keep Australian industry competitive within the global market, as F-35 Program contracts are awarded on a ‘best-value’ basis.”
Building on these announcements, Ministers Reynolds and Price detailed a plan that will see former Jetstar aviation workers have been recruited to start a new career in defence industry as part of the Morrison Government’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program.
The 25 former Jetstar workers have commenced their training with BAE Systems Australia to sustain Australia’s growing fleet of F-35A Lightning II and Hawk Lead in Fighter aircraft.
Following their training, 21 aviation technicians and logisticians will support the RAAF team at No 81 Wing in the ongoing maintenance of Australia’s F-35A fleet at RAAF Base Williamtown. Four technicians and logisticians will work on the Hawk at BAE’s facility.
Minister Reynolds CSC said this was a great outcome for the workers who were recently made redundant following Jetstar’s closure of its aircraft maintenance facility near Newcastle in NSW.
“I am proud of the way Defence and Australian industry have collaborated to identify new opportunities for these highly skilled workers. These workers, who will start their new roles in January, will be retained in the local aviation industry while simultaneously helping Defence build its sovereign F-35A sustainment capability.
“This is just another example of the way the Morrison Government is working with Australian defence industry to help the economy recover from COVID-19,” Minister Reynolds said.
Minister Price added, “During my regular engagement with the sector this year, I have urged companies to take on as many displaced workers as possible.
“These are workers already extremely well-armed with great skills and experience and it’s fantastic that the defence industry sector has been able to recruit their expertise. Defence’s excellent relationship with Australia’s industry partners has enabled this solution.
“It not only offers employment stability for the affected workers, but assists Defence as it builds Australia’s F-35A maintenance capability,” Minister Price explained.
BAE Systems Australia Chief Executive Gabby Costigan reinforced the comments made by Ministers Reynolds and Price, welcoming the announcement regarding former Jetstar workers joining the defence industry workforce, “I am delighted that we can provide highly skilled jobs at a time when so many industries have been impacted by the pandemic.
“The Defence industry can be an important economic catalyst, particularly with our increasing emphasis on developing Australian expertise and ensuring Australian industry is key to our supply chain. Over the next five years we expect to grow our Williamtown workforce significantly to support Australia’s growing F-35 fleet. The addition of 25 specialists to our workforce will ensure that we can continue to develop, grow and retain critical aerospace capabilities that will benefit both the Hunter region and the nation,” Costigan added.
JSF-ISP Grant application and sustainment guidelines can be found at: https://www.grants.gov.au/.
The Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is billed as a catalyst for the fifth-generation revolution, changing the face and capability of the Royal Australian Air Force and the wider Australian Defence Force.
For the RAAF, the F-35A's combination of full-spectrum low-observable stealth coatings and materials, advanced radar-dispersing shaping, network-centric sensor and communications suites – combined with a lethal strike capability – means the aircraft will be the ultimate force multiplying, air-combat platform.
Over the coming years, Australia will purchase 72 of the advanced fifth-generation fighter aircraft as part of the $17 billion AIR 6000 Phase 2A/B program – which is aimed at replacing the ageing F/A-18A/B Classic Hornets that have been in service with the RAAF since 1985.