F-35’s Arrive at BAE SYstems in Port Stephens

Prime Minister Scott Morrison proud of F-35’s and how they are a part of protecting Australia’s Sovereignty. Photo by Marian Sampson.


THE Australian Defence Force and many locally based aerospace businesses celebrated today as the first F-35 Joint Strike Fighter arrived at BAE Systems Williamtown facility in Australia.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was on hand at BAE Systems with the Minister for Defence the Hon Linda Reynolds, Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price, Chief of Air Force Air Marshall Mel Hupfeld and BAE Systems CEO Gabby Costigan.

BAE Systems is the Southern Pacific regions F-35 Heavy Airframe Depot supporting the F-35 aircraft in the region for the next 30 years.

32 highly skilled technicians have been recruited to provide airframe maintenance and sustainment for the depot.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, “Australia must always, must always be prepared, always looking to the future to be prepared.

“We are here today to mark a milestone, one which is about keeping Australia safe.”

The Prime Minister noted that this year we will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the ANZUS alliance.

“Some 50 Australian Companies are providing parts and systems, and those contracts are worth 2.7 billion dollars.

“This includes contracts for sustainment/training/maintenance which are still rolling out.

“In Port Stephens and the Hunter companies including Milskil, HI Fraser and Varley are playing a part of this economy.

“We are a serious part of this (Joint Strike Force) undertaking.”

After being selected as the maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade depot for the Southeast Asia region, the BAESA facility will host Australian F-35A aircraft and other nations’ F-35 aircraft include aircraft from Japan, Korea and Singapore.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the F-35A fleet was now 33 strong and ready to deploy on operations.

“This is about protecting and securing Australia’s interests but it’s also creating jobs and driving investment right here in the Hunter and across the country too,” the Prime Minister said.

The program is progressing on budget and on schedule and the aircraft is undergoing routine structural modifications to improve the airframe, ensuring it reaches full life, and aligning it with newer aircraft.

Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds CSC said up to four Australian F-35A aircraft were expected to undergo routine maintenance at BAE’s facility this year, demonstrating the significant boost the Program was having on the local Hunter economy.

“We are building our sovereign defence capabilities.

“We now have 41 fully trained RAAF pilots, nine of whom trained on home soil at RAAF Base Williamtown.

“We also have more than 225 trained technicians as the RAAF’s F-35A maintenance capability continues to develop,” she said.




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