Lockheed Martin Australia has won a $1.6 million contract to create an F-35 sustainment warehouse within RAAF Base Williamtown.
The facility will store replenishment spares for the aircraft’s operations in Australia and the broader region.
According to the prime contractor, the Williamtown-based F-35 warehouse is a key logistics node in the F-35’s global sustainment system and is hoped to support both Australian defence industry resilience and US forces based in the region.
More than 70 Australian firms have received over $3 billion in production and sustainment contracts for the capability to date, with Lockheed Martin Australia projecting continued benefits to Australian industry and the national economy over coming years.
“The establishment of a regional warehousing and distribution network for the Indo-Pacific will increase F-35 operational resilience for Australia and regional F-35 operators, including US forces deployed in the Indo-Pacific,” Warren McDonald, Lockheed Martin Australia chief executive, said.
“The regional warehouse will create approximately 20 immediate jobs as part of a growth path to more than 500 long-term F-35 sustainment jobs in future years.”
Lockheed Martin explained that the company uses advanced data analytics to maintain continued readiness for F-35 fleets across the globe, requiring adequate levels of spare equipment to be held at warehouses.
According to Andrew Gresham, managing director of defence delivery at BAE Systems Australia, the announcement will help grow Australia as a regional maintenance hub for the aircraft.
“I am delighted that we are expanding our contribution to the F-35 program through the activation of the Indo-Pacific regional warehouse,” Gresham said. “It helps to secure the region as a nationally important aerospace hub.”
Australia currently has a fleet of 54 F-35s, and over the next 12 months will increase that to at least 72 as part of the $17 billion AIR 6000 Phase 2A/B program.
The aircraft comes in three variants: the F-35A — purchased by Australia — is a conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) version; the F-35B is a short take-off/vertical landing (STOVL) variant, and the final F-35C is the carrier type (CV).
Australia purchased the aircraft to replace the RAAF’s F/A-18A/B Classic Hornets, which were in service since 1985 and retired in late 2021.
In the last few weeks, both Germany and Canada have purchased a fleet of the fifth-generation fighter.
Canada has procured 88 to replace its ageing CF-18 Hornets, while Germany has bought 35 of the A variant.