Australia’s F-35A stealth fighters ready
The first F-35A aircraft has been inducted into a local maintenance program as part of a $65 billion joint strike fighter program.
The F-35a fighters will be maintained at BAE Systems Australia's Newcastle depot.
By 2025, BAESA's work on the F-35 program will support some 750 jobs across Australia and employ people across more than 30 skill sets, including airframe and component maintenance.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the F-35A fleet was now 33 strong and ready for 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.
"This induction demonstrates the world leading capability of our local defence industry here in Australia.
"We want to give as many opportunities to Australian companies as possible which is why there's already more than 50 local companies sharing in $2.7 billion worth of contracts as part of the F-35 program."
The fighter jets will all be sustained and upgraded at the South Pacific Regional Sustainment Depot in Williamtown, Newcastle, which will also support F-35 aircraft from across the region.
Other countries will host the stealth fighters including Japan, Korea and Singapore although most will be maintained at Willi amtown.
Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said up to four Australian F-35A aircraft were expected to undergo routine maintenance at BAESA's facility this year.
She said it demonstrated a significant boost for the local Hunter economy.
"We now have 41 fully trained RAAF pilots, nine of whom trained on home soil at RAAF Base Williamtown," Senator Reynolds said.
"We also have more than 225 trained technicians as the RAAF's F-35A maintenance capability continues to develop."
BAESA recently hired 25 former Jetstar employees who had been made redundant as a result of the pandemic.
Originally published as Australia's F-35A stealth fighters ready