Defence capabilities in Hunter region unlocked as aerospace precinct takes flight

Published: 8 Dec 2020

Released by: Deputy Premier

A defence and aerospace technology park that will create up to 4300 jobs and service and maintain Australian fighter jets is one step closer to reality.

Stage one of the Astra Aerolab precinct is now complete thanks to $11.7 million from the NSW Government’s Growing Local Economies fund. 

Deputy Premier John Barilaro was joined by Newcastle Airport CEO Dr Peter Cock to announce construction of vital infrastructure is now complete, including an access road, power, water, gas, sewer and data connections. 

Mr Barilaro said the essential infrastructure will kick-start the site’s development, driving innovation and collaboration in the Hunter and benefitting the local community through the creation of thousands of jobs.  

“I turned the first sod on this project 18 months ago, and this site has already been transformed to pave the way for a world-leading defence and aerospace technology park,” Mr Barilaro said.

“This will allow aviation companies to establish themselves at this new location, as well as create jobs for aerospace engineers, aviation, IT and avionics specialists and attract workers to the Hunter.

“I want to thank Newcastle Airport, the City of Newcastle and Port Stephens Council for their hard work and commitment to making this project a reality.

Dr Cock thanked the NSW Government for its $11.7 million investment, noting stage one unlocks four initial development sites totaling 7.4 hectares including an airside development site and allows for the expansion of the existing BAE Systems site.

“Astra Aerolab is a place where world leading defence, research, aerospace and industry partners will converge to push boundaries, embrace new technologies and develop the jobs for the future,” Dr Cock said.

“It will be a truly inspiring environment for both businesses and their employees; we are determined it will become a place that connects a global workforce with the RAAF Base Williamtown and Newcastle Airport, and a place where people will want to work.

“Today is certainly a very proud moment for Newcastle Airport and more broadly for our region. We have taken a great idea and were supported by a forward-looking government committed to developing regional NSW.

“I thank the NSW Government for partnering with us to jointly fund the first stage of the development and now doubling down on that investment by declaring this area as a Special Activation Precinct, with Astra at its heart.”

Managing Director of BAE Systems Australia Andrew Gresham said the company would directly employ around 400 highly skilled people to support the Joint Strike Fighter fleet during the 30 plus years of the aircrafts’ service life.

The Astra Aerolab will form part of the NSW Government’s larger Williamtown Special Activation Precinct, that will grow a national and international defence and aerospace hub to turbocharge the region’s economy, drive investment and create jobs.

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