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Newcastle Airport named for new F-35 stealth coating facility

written by Robert Dougherty | August 15, 2023

A Royal Australian Air Force F-35A Lightning II aircraft from No. 2 Operational Conversion Unit practices an aerial handling display over RAAF Base Williamtown, north of Newcastle, NSW. Photo: CPL Craig Barrett

Newcastle Airport is set to become the regional hub for maintaining F-35A Lightning II aircraft as the federal government greenlights an aircraft coating facility on the East Coast.

Australia’s first dedicated coating facility, specialising in applying stealth paint to the aircraft, will be built in partnership with BAE Systems Australia and responsible for the maintenance, repair, overhaul, and upgrade activities for Australia’s fleet of 72 F-35A aircraft.

It is expected the design of the coating facility will be finalised by the end of this year, with construction expected to start around mid-2024 at a total expected cost of more than $100 million.

“This is a vote of confidence in the Hunter that ensures these world-class aircraft will operate and be sustained from Newcastle Airport for decades to come,” said Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy.

“The Hunter community can be proud to be playing a vital role in sustaining this critical defence capability not only for Australia, but also for our region.


“Defence industry companies in the Hunter and across Australia are already making a significant contribution to the F-35 program and this will grow in the years ahead.”

The work is expected to bring more than 100 local jobs during the construction phase and up to 25 new local ongoing jobs at the facility, alongside the larger team of around 360 local workers who already sustain F-35A aircraft at Newcastle Airport.

To date, only Australian F-35As have undergone maintenance by BAE at Newcastle Airport, however, the new coating facility will support the maintenance of other F-35A fleets operating in the Indo-Pacific.

In addition to BAE Systems Australia, other contributing companies in the Hunter include Nupress Group and Varley Group.

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