Construction of a defence and aerospace technology park that will create up to 5,500 jobs and service and maintain Australian fighter jets has today taken flight, thanks to NSW Government funding.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro joined Newcastle Airport CEO Dr Peter Cock and BAE Systems Australia Director Defence Delivery Andrew Gresham to turn the first sod of the 76-hectare Astra Aerolab precinct.
Mr Barilaro announced $11.7 million for the project, which will go towards vital infrastructure, including an access road, power, water, gas, sewer and data connections.
“I am thrilled this precinct will allow aviation companies to quickly establish themselves at this new location and get on with the job of supporting Royal Australian Air Force combat aircraft, including the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter,” Mr Barilaro said.
“By funding the Astra Aerolab precinct, we are helping to create jobs for aerospace engineers, aviation, IT and avionics specialists and attracting workers to the Hunter region.
“I want to thank Newcastle Airport, the City of Newcastle and Port Stephens Council for their hard work and commitment to making this precinct a reality,” he said.
Newcastle Airport and BAE Systems Australia also signed an agreement giving the defence contractor an option to lease land on stage one of the Astra Aerolab site.
Dr Cock said the presence of BAE Systems Australia would attract jobs and investment to Astra Aerolab, as well as help create the aerospace precinct the Hunter region deserves.
“RAAF base Williamtown will eventually be home to a majority of the Australian F-35A Joint Strike Fighter fleet, so Astra will ultimately hold an extremely important place in developing and maintaining our nation’s strategic defence capabilities,” Dr Cock said.
Mr Gresham said BAE Systems Australia would directly employ around 400 highly skilled people to support the Joint Strike Fighter fleet during the 30 plus years of the aircraft’s service life.
“This milestone is incredibly important for our business and will facilitate the redevelopment of our existing Williamtown site ahead of our work supporting the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter in Australia,” Mr Gresham said.