The Australian government has more than doubled its investment in BAE Systems Australia’s F-35 Lightning II aircraft maintenance facility in Hunter Valley, New South Wales, signing a Stage 2 facility services deed with the company.
The funding, worth $75.4 million, is in addition to the $68.6 million that Canberra initially committed in 2022 to the BAE Systems facility. The increased funding secures Hunter Valley as a future Indo-Pacific sustainment hub for the aircraft, according to a statement from the Australian Department of Defence.
In a previous announcement of a new aircraft coating facility at the Williamtown site, the defense contractor said the expansion in operations will accommodate Australia’s international F-35 fleet partners, aside from meeting the Royal Australian Air Force’s requirements.
The Stage 2 investment will enable BAE to build seven additional maintenance bays at Williamtown’s Newcastle Airport, increasing its total capacity to 13 bays. The facility will serve Australia’s 72 F-35A aircraft at RAAF Base Williamtown and RAAF Base Tindal.
The global F-35 fleet is expected to exceed 3,000 aircraft, all potential users of the BAE Systems Hunter Valley sustainment facility, Defence said.