Williamtown gets Joint Strike Fighter maintainence contract

Joint Strike FighterWILLIAMTOWN’S statusas the home of the Joint Strike Fighter is set to be further enhanced after the federal government announced a major maintenance contract for the planes is set to come to the base.

Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne announced on Tuesday that Australia had been chosen as a major repair hub for the Joint Strike Fighter across the Asia-Pacific Region.

Worth about$100 million across Australia, the contract is for the component parts of the planes, and follows on from a similar announcementlast year that will see Australia assume responsibility for the F-35A’s airframe.

A large chunk of the new contract is set to come to Williamtown, afterBAE Systems was awarded about 40 per cent of the work.

Steven Drury, the director aerospace for BAE, said the company would begin work making sure its site in Williamtown was ready to take on the responsibilities.

He said the contract –coupled with the airframe announcement –would mean close to250 jobs in Williamtown.

“But it’s only the first 10 per centof all the components around the world [and] this announcements means we are now better placed to be winning more work in the future,” he said.

With further contracts to be awarded, Mr Pyne said the decision meant Australia was in a “prime position” to expand its role.

“What this means is that Australian industry will be responsible for the deep maintenance of components of the Joint Strike Fighter,” he said.

“While countries operating the Joint Strike Fighter will look after the basic maintenance – like changing the tyres on a car – Australia will be responsible for much deeper, complex and high value repair of the jets, similar to changing the timing belt or overhauling the engine.”

The regional contract means Australia will also work on the planes from South Korea and Japan, as well as Asian-based fighter planesfrom the United States.

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