New Joint Strike Fighter maintenance facilities open at Williamtown

The Hunter is poised to capitalise on Joint Strike Fighter maintenance opportunities after new facilities were officially opened at Williamtown this week.

Defence Minister Kevin Andrews joined Paterson MP Bob Baldwin at Williamtown today for the official opening of a new Lockheed Martin radar operations facility.

The ribbon cutting was followed by a tour of the adjacent BAE Systems maintenance workshops.

The Minister announced last week that BAE Systems had won a major maintenance contract for the Joint Strike Fighter.

Mr Andrews said, under arrangements with the US Air Force, heavy maintenance work for the global F-35 fleet in the Southern Pacific region will be undertaken at Williamtown.

“This is part of a very significant development so far as Williamtown is concerned,” he said.

“It’s a mark of the confidence of the Australian defence industry in terms of new projects, new jobs and over time a significant boost to the Australian economy.”

The Federal Government has encouraged companies involved in the defence industry to follow the lead of multi-nationals Lockheed Martin and BAE Systems and invest in the Hunter Valley.

Mr Baldwin said the Williamtown Aerospace Centre has ample space for expansion.

“There’s the land that the RAAF has bought for the noise-affected people in Steele Street, Slade Road and Moxey,” he said.

“Which is all perfect to become future land for business parks to get more people into the region.

“I want to see thousands of jobs, employed in and around this base perimeter.

“That’s for local people and that is delivering real outcomes.”

Mr Andrews was unable to give Newcastle shipbuilders hope that they would benefit from construction contracts for the next generation of submarines.

Mr Andrews said, while the news is positive for the aviation sector, no decision will be made on where the submarines will be built until after the Defence White Paper is released, later this year.

“No decision has been made about the submarines,” he said.

“We are going through a careful process, that will be informed by the White Paper, which will be assessing what our strategic needs are.

“As the new Defence Minister, I will go through this process in a very careful, cautious way.

“We are quite committed to the Australian defence industry, and I think this is a great example.”



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