The Australian government is investing $100 million to establish an aircraft-coating facility at the Royal Australian Air Force base in Williamtown, New South Wales, aiming to keep its fleet of F-35 fighters ‘nearly invisible.’
Australia’s aircraft coating facility will carry out the precise application of specialized paint onto the aircraft, ensuring their effective camouflage from adversaries’ radar systems.
This will play a vital role in enhancing the nation’s air combat capabilities. The facility also represents the first instance when this particular paint is applied outside the United States.
The new facility is being constructed in partnership with BAE Systems Australia.
In a tweet, BAE Systems Air expressed their enthusiasm, stating, “Great news as our business in Australia welcomes an expansion of our capabilities to support F-35 for the Royal Australian Air Force.”
Minister of Defence Industry @PatConroy1 joined us at our Williamtown Aerospace Precinct to announce Commonwealth funding for a dedicated Aircraft Coating Facility that will provide the stealth paint for Australia's #F35 jets.
— BAE Systems Australia (@BAESystemsAus) August 15, 2023
The company further highlighted its pivotal role as a reliable collaborator with Lockheed Martin on the global F-35 initiative, showcasing pride in its involvement across the spectrum of jet development, production, and ongoing maintenance throughout the entire fleet.
Meanwhile, Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy said that the utilization of a specific paint on F-35A Lightning II fighter jets renders them exceptionally stealthy, as this paint possesses the capability to absorb radar waves instead of reflecting them, thereby enhancing their elusive nature in the skies.
“The F-35 is the most advanced fighter jet in the world for two reasons,” he said.
Firstly, its exceptional stealth capabilities allow it to remain nearly undetectable on radar. Secondly, its remarkable networking proficiency, enabling seamless integration and collaboration with other fighter aircraft, whether it’s a Wedgetail radar aircraft or an air warfare destroyer, emphasized the Minister for Defence Industry.
However, attaining these capabilities hinges on consistent modification and enhancement, a responsibility that will be carried out right at this establishment.
New Facility To Support Other F-35s
The intricate composition of the paint’s chemicals remains shrouded in secrecy within the borders of the United States.
Situated in Williamtown, BAE Systems, entrusted with the responsibility of upkeeping and servicing the formidable fleet of 63 F-35A aircraft in Australia, is set to take charge of the operational management of the facility.
Ben Hudson, the Chief Executive of the company, underscored the enduring and robust partnership that BAE Systems has fostered with the Royal Australian Air Force over nearly three decades.
This partnership has been pivotal in supporting a diverse array of capabilities based in Williamtown, showcasing the depth of their collaboration.
Hudson further highlighted the abundant prospects that lie ahead, particularly for the younger generation of Australians.
He envisions a promising avenue for them to actively engage in one of the world’s most advanced technological sectors, highlighting its significance in contributing to the nation’s security.
“We’ve got a lot of opportunities for the future for young Australians to participate in really one of the highest technology industries in the world and contribute to the national security of the country,” he said.
Meanwhile, according to an official press release from the Australian government, the establishment of this new facility is anticipated to yield the creation of approximately 25 new permanent local positions.
These roles will seamlessly integrate into the broader team of approximately 360 local personnel already dedicated to sustaining the F-35A aircraft at Newcastle Airport.
The design of the coating facility is anticipated to be completed by the end of this year. With the construction phase expected to commence around the middle of 2024, the projected expenses are set to exceed $100 million.
Notably, the maintenance of Australian F-35As at Newcastle Airport has been exclusively undertaken by BAE Systems thus far.
“The new coating facility will support the maintenance of other F-35A fleets operating in the Indo-Pacific, transforming Newcastle Airport into a future regional hub,” the government added.
Consequently, this strategic expansion has the transformative potential to elevate Newcastle Airport into a prominent regional hub for such operations.
Over the subsequent three decades, the ongoing sustenance and enhancements orchestrated at Newcastle Airport are forecasted to facilitate the creation of up to 750 direct and indirect employment opportunities throughout Australia. The multifaceted impact of this initiative extends beyond immediate employment, resonating within the larger economic framework.