Minister Pyne emphasised Australia’s potential to be a regional hub for the maintenance of F-35 Lightning II componentry, which could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
“It would be a major win for our defence industry if Australia wins the contract to maintain, repair, overhaul and upgrade the Joint Strike Fighters in the Southeast Asian region,” he said.
The Defence Industry Minister stated that the meetings with Secretary Carter, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, and Frank Kendall, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, as well as representatives of Boeing and Lockheed Martin, were an important opportunity to highlight the strength of the Australian defence industry and to promote Australia as a potential partner.
During his visit, Pyne met Lockheed Martin Corporation chairman, president and chief executive officer Marillyn Hewson to discuss opportunities for Australian industry.
Australia’s involvement in the F-35 program is a prime illustration of the depth of Australian commitment to the alliance with the US, he said in a speech to the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA).
“Our participation in this program is a long-term commitment,” Pyne said. “A century ago, British defence planners considered taking advantage of Australia’s strategic, secure location, and making it the site of a mighty arsenal to supply their needs.
“Today, we offer a highly capable industry base in a secure location in the Asia Pacific: a perfect place to support the Joint Strike Fighter global support solution. And it is an absolute priority for us to capitalise on the increasing volume of opportunities this program will provide as production rates triple over the next few years.
“As the program moves into full-rate production, the government and industry are working together to increase capacity in order to prepare for increased demand and increased opportunity as we seek to provide the best value for money options for its production. Australia is looking forward to being the regional centre for maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade work for the Joint Strike Fighters.”
Meanwhile, Minister for Defence Senator Marise Payne and Secretary of Defense Carter have welcomed the in-principle conclusion of cost-sharing negotiations that will see Australia and the US share the burden of more than $2 billion in infrastructure investment in Northern Australia.
Australia and the US will share the infrastructure costs, as well as the ongoing cost of the Force Posture Initiatives, over the 25-year life of an agreement between the two countries, according to a statement from Senator Payne.
“What it is actually described as is a cost-sharing arrangement that is well considered, that is sustainable and that is based on proportionate use, so those things which are for the use of the United States are paid for by them, those things which are shared are paid for by Defence,” the Defence Minister said during a press conference in Washington.