The US just chose a bunch of Australian companies to look after F-35 maintenance

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter jet. Photo: David McNew/AFP/Getty Images

Several Australian companies just had a big win when it comes to looking after the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter when it finally makes its way to local shores.

The Australian government has 72 of the Lockheed Martin F-35s on order, costing up to $12 billion, but the fraught $US1.5 trillion fifth-generation fighter – the most expensive weapons system ever built by the US – is seven years behind schedule and 50% over budget.

The Pentagon has been asked for an extra $US500 million to finish the F-35’s development phase and this week, reports that another F-35 caught fire emerged.

But with Japan and Korea also planning to buy the plane, Australian defence industry minister Christopher Pyne announced today that Australian firms will provide maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade for componentry in the JSF in the Asia-Pacific. Australia is one of four countries that will be a regional hub for maintenance.

“While countries operating the Joint Strike Fighter will look after the basic maintenance – like changing the tyres on a car – Australia will be responsible for much deeper, complex and high value repair of the jets, similar to changing the timing belt or overhauling the engine,” Pyne said.

“It is estimated that this initial work will be worth between $80 and $100 million AUD in today’s dollars and will create and sustain hundreds, if not thousands, of Australian jobs.”

The minister said today’s announcement covers 8% of the total sustainment work that the US Government will allocate over the next few years and Australian industry had already achieved more than $800 million in contracts from F-35 design and production work.

Australia has taken delivery of its first two planes, with pilots and ground crews currently training and testing them.

The remainder are expected to be delivered by 2023.

Here’s the list of Australian companies and the work they’ll do:

JSF maintenance to be done in Australia. Source: supplied

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