The Australian government has announced Lockheed Martin Australia has secured a sovereign Training Support Services contract, which will boost Australian industry and support Australian jobs through the global F-35A Program.
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds welcomed the win for Australian defence industry, in what is another example of a unique Australian sustainment contract.
“This contract is valued at up to $100 million over a term of up to five years, and will see more than 70 ADF personnel locally employed at RAAF Bases Williamtown and Tindal. The agreement includes the operation and maintenance support for six F-35A Full Mission Simulators at RAAF Base Williamtown,” Minister Reynolds explained.
“There are plans to install four more simulators at RAAF Base Tindal in 2021, which would also be included under the support arrangements.”
This milestone coincides with the RAAF’s withdrawal from pilot training arrangements at Luke Air Force Base in the US, bringing training arrangements back to Australia.
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said Defence had already trained nine Australian pilots in the existing four simulators at the RAAF Base Williamtown Integrated Training Centre during 2020.
Minister Price said this had coincided with Defence also delivering training to maintenance and support experts.
“Training has been delivered to more than 350 maintenance and support personnel in the Integrated Training Centre to date,” Minister Price said.
Adding to this, Minister Price said, “This agreement will see Australian industry training RAAF pilots and maintainers to operate and maintain Australia’s F-35A to their fullest capability.
“With the six simulators in place by end 2020, all initial Australian F-35A pilot training will occur through the RAAF Base Williamtown Integrated Training Centre.”
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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.