Major investment in Williamtown to accommodate additional JSF fighters
The Federal Government has approved the acquisition of an additional 58 F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter aircraft. The total capital cost of $12.4 billion for this acquisition includes the cost of associated facilities, weapons and training. Around $1.6 billion has been allocated for new facilities and infrastructure, including at RAAF Base Williamtown and RAAF Base Tindal in the Northern Territory.
The fifth generation F-35 is the most advanced fighter in production anywhere in the world and will be at the forefront of Australia’s air combat capabilities. The F-35 will also provide a major boost to the ADF’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance abilities. The first F-35 aircraft will arrive in Australia in 2018 and enter service with the Royal Australian Air Force in 2020.
Australia has been working with the United States as a partner in the Joint Strike Fighter programme since the Coalition joined in 2002. Acquiring F-35 aircraft will reinforce the ADF’s ability to operate seamlessly with US forces and Australia’s capacity to continue supporting shared strategic interests under the US alliance.
The acquisition of F-35 aircraft will bring significant economic benefits to Australia, including Williamtown and for the local defence industry with more jobs and production for many locally-based skilled and technical manufacturers.
As a result of the decision to join during the development phase, Australian Defence Industry has been awarded over $355 million in work and stands to win well in excess of $1.5 billion in JSF-related production and support work over the life of the program – creating long-term advanced manufacturing and engineering jobs.
The F-35 will replace the F/A-18A/B Classic Hornet aircraft which will be withdrawn from service by 2022. The new 58 F-35 aircraft, in addition to the 14 already approved in 2009, will provide the RAAF with a total of 72 aircraft to form three operational squadrons and one training squadron.
The Government will also consider the option of acquiring an additional squadron of F-35 aircraft to replace the Super Hornets in the future.