Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne has met Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and other senior US officials and industry executives to highlight Australia’s potential to be a regional hub for the maintenance of the F-35 Lightning II, which could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
During a visit to Washington the Defence Industry Minister had meetings with Secretary Carter, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, and Frank Kendall, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, as well as representatives of Boeing and Lockheed Martin, were an opportunity to highlight the strength of the Australian defence industry and to promote Australia as a potential partner.
“It would be a major win for our defence industry if Australia wins the contract to maintain, repair, overhaul and upgrade the Joint Strike Fighters in the Southeast Asian region,” he said.
During his visit, Pyne also met Lockheed Martin Corporation chairman, president and chief executive officer Marillyn Hewson to discuss opportunities for Australian industry.
Australia’s involvement in the F-35 program is a prime illustration of the depth of Australian commitment to the alliance with the US, Pyne said in a speech to the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA).
“Our participation in this program is a long-term commitment,” he said.
“Today, we offer a highly capable industry base in a secure location in the Asia Pacific: a perfect place to support the Joint Strike Fighter global support solution. And it is an absolute priority for us to capitalise on the increasing volume of opportunities this program will provide as production rates triple over the next few years.
“As the program moves into full-rate production, the government and industry are working together to increase capacity in order to prepare for increased demand and increased opportunity as we seek to provide the best value for money options for its production. Australia is looking forward to being the regional centre for maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade work for the Joint Strike Fighters.”