Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Australian government is to build an aircraft coating facility at Newcastle Airport in Williamtown, New South Wales, to maintain the stealth of Australia’s fleet of F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters, the Australian Department of Defence announced on 15 August.

The new facility is being established in partnership with BAE Systems Australia, which is responsible for the maintenance, repair, overhaul (MRO) and upgrade activities for the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF’s) fleet of 63 F-35A aircraft, which is being expanded to 72.

Australian Minister of Defence Industry Pat Conroy (right) shakes hands with BAE Systems Australia CEO Ben Hudson on 15 August following the announcement of government funding for a dedicated aircraft coating facility at Newcastle Airport in Williamtown, New South Wales. The facility will maintain the stealth coating of F-35 fighters in service with the RAAF and its regional allies. (Photo: BAE Systems Australia)

The design for the coating facility is due to be finalised by the end of this year, with construction expected to start around mid-2024. It is expected to cost more than AUS 100 M (EUR 59.2 M) and involve more than 100 local jobs in the construction phase.

To date, only Australian F-35As have undergone maintenance by BAE Systems at Newcastle Airport. However, the new coating facility will support the maintenance of other F-35A fleets operating in the Indo-Pacific, transforming Newcastle Airport into a regional MRO hub for F-35 operators.

Peter Felstead