It’s part of a broader expansion of the facility to accommodate future sustainment for the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) fleet of F-35 aircraft.
Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon. Pat Conroy MP, made the announcement during a visit to BAE Systems’ Williamtown facility where he met employees working across both the F-35 and Hawk Lead-In Fighter sustainment programs.
The F-35 is the world's largest defence program and the fifth generation platform is a stealthy, multi-role attack aircraft capable of operating from land and sea to nations across the globe.
There are currently 63 F-35A aircraft in the RAAF fleet, with 72 in the planned program of record.
BAE Systems partners with Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman to manufacture, integrate and sustain the F-35. In addition to supporting operational level maintenance for the RAAF, the Company is also involved in maintenance, warehousing and repair of components for the Asia Pacific fleet of F-35s.
BAE Systems is expanding its Williamtown operations — which lie adjacent to the RAAF Base Williamtown, home to the F-35 fleet — to meet demand as the fleet grows towards 72 aircraft and the company’s activities also incorporate international F-35 fleet partners.
Significant capital works will be undertaken in a three-stage approach across the Williamtown precinct as part of the expansion activities which are expected to be completed in 2026.
New maintenance bays and the Asia Pacific Regional Warehouse have already been activated at the site and another 13 bays will be added, as well as the Aircraft Coating Facility, funded by the Commonwealth.
By 2025, BAE Systems will employ more than 350 people directly — and some 750 in total — to support F-35 sustainment within Australia. More than 70 Australian companies have already benefitted from over $3.7 billion in global F-35 production and sustainment contracts.
BAE Systems Australia, Managing Director of Defence Delivery, Andrew Gresham said:
“Expansion of the Williamtown aerospace precinct is a major milestone for BAE Systems’ plans in the Hunter region.
“Working with the Commonwealth to expand our capabilities to support the F-35 fleet is an important growth engine that will provide hundreds of jobs for people across the Hunter for decades to come.”
About BAE Systems and the F-35 program in Australia
- BAE Systems Australia plays a vital role in the global sustainment of the F-35 Lightning II aircraft — the world’s most advanced fighter jet.
- In partnership with Lockheed Martin, we help sustain the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) fleet of F-35 fighter jets.
- As a key partner in F-35 sustainment, we collaborate with Lockheed Martin, to deliver around 15% of each aircraft, excluding propulsion, playing a major role in the development, production and sustainment of each jet. The F-35 fleet is maintained and upgraded at our South Pacific Regional Sustainment Depot in Williamtown, near Newcastle, New South Wales (NSW).
- We play a major role in the global F-35 sustainment program through an Asia–Pacific warehouse, which will support up to 300 F-35s across the region. This warehouse will maintain key aircraft components until at least 2050.
- We manufacture the aft fuselage and vertical and horizontal stabilisers for every F-35 produced at one of our sites in Adelaide.