• F-35 Lightning II aircraft from RAAF Base Williamtown fly in formation off the coast of Newcastle.
    F-35 Lightning II aircraft from RAAF Base Williamtown fly in formation off the coast of Newcastle. Defence

A number of announcements related to Australia’s F-35 program were made this week, starting with the news that Lockheed Martin has been awarded a sovereign Training Support Services (TSS) contract.

“This contract is valued at up to $100 million over a term of up to five years, and will see more than 70 ADF personnel locally employed at RAAF Bases Williamtown and Tindal,” Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said. “The agreement includes the operation and maintenance support for six F-35A Full Mission Simulators at RAAF Base Williamtown.

“There are plans to install four more simulators at RAAF Base Tindal in 2021, which would also be included under the support arrangements.

“The simulators at RAAF Bases Williamtown and Tindal have the ability to be networked together and share mission data to greatly enhance training.”

The contract will be delivered with support from Williamtown-based air combat training specialist Milskil.

“The TSS contract ensures the world-class sovereign F-35 training support services solution we developed with Milskil is sustained for a further three years, while further solidifying RAAF Base Williamtown as Lockheed Martin’s largest F-35 base presence outside of the US,” Lockheed Martin Australia chief Joe North said.

The milestone coincides with the RAAF’s withdrawal from pilot training arrangements at Luke Air Force Base in the US, bringing training arrangements back to Australia.

Separately, Minister Reynolds announced the Joint Strike Fighter – Industry Support Program (JSF-ISP), with $4 million initially available in grant funding to establish the program.

“The JSF-ISP sustainment opportunity will support Australian companies that have been successfully appointed by the US for component repair capability as part of the F-35 Global Support Solution,” Minister Reynolds said.

In another release, Minister Reynolds highlighted the size of Australia’s contribution to the F-35 program, which includes 50 Australian companies sharing $2.7 billion in contracts.

Finally, NSW-based Quickstep announced that it has produced its 10,000th F-35 component. Each F-35 aircraft currently in production incorporates approximately $440,000 of content built at Quickstep’s facility at Bankstown Aerodrome in Western Sydney.

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