Hunter Region Economy Set to Soar


A Hunter engineering company has been awarded a $164.9 million federal government contract to deliver major airfield works at RAAF Base Williamtown and Newcastle Airport.

The contract with Downer EDI Works Pty Limited will support Australia’s air power capabilities and deliver a major boost to the Hunter region and the wider NSW economy.

“RAAF Base Williamtown is the Royal Australian Air Force’s main airbase for fighter pilot training and supports a large workforce of Defence personnel,” Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said. “The project will maintain and improve critical airfield infrastructure to ensure RAAF Base Williamtown continues to support the projection of Australia’s air power and also enable movements of larger civilian aircraft for Newcastle Airport. “This contract is estimated to support about 300 jobs with an average of about 130 personnel per day.”

“This is a great project that will deliver increased airfield capacity for larger civilian aircraft, supporting increased international travel and regional tourism. It will also benefit for our local economy with an improved accessibility to international freight for exporting regional produce. Importantly, under its Local Industry Capability Plan, Downer EDI Works Pty Limited will target local businesses to deliver at least 75 per cent of the total contract value. The company has also committed to achieving at least 4.5 per cent Indigenous employment participation in the Project.” Liberal Patron Senator for the Hunter Region Hollie Hughes said.

Downer EDI Works will remediate and upgrade the airfield for use by both the RAAF and Newcastle Airport. Construction is due to start in early 2022 and is expected to be completed in late 2023.

The boost to the Hunter region economy will also soar with the delivery of an extra $140 million in maintenance and supply-chain support for the Royal Australian Air Force’s fifth-generation F-35A Lightning II fighter.

The federal government has also signed an $80 million, five-year contract with BAE Systems Australia for the ongoing support of Australian F-35A operations.

“This contract with BAE will establish sovereign maintenance and supply-chain support to the Royal Australian Air Force F-35A fleet located at RAAF Bases Williamtown in the Hunter region, and Tindal in the Northern Territory,” Minister Price said. “It will also result in the employment of 46 BAE Systems Australia staff in the Hunter region who will provide direct, on-the-ground support to the Royal Australian Air Force fleet. The $60 million increase in funding for the Joint Strike Fighter Industry Support Program will allow Australian companies to develop new and improved capabilities to strengthen their chances of securing contracts in the global F-35 Program,” Minister Price said.

Australian businesses looking to access this funding are encouraged to review the Joint Strike Fighter Industry Support Program Guidelines and explore opportunities to contribute to this critically important defence capability.

Defence will also acquire 72 F-35A Lighting II aircraft to replace the Classic Hornet fleet. To date, 45 jets have been accepted by Australia and the full fleet is on track to be delivered by the end of 2023.


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