PRIME Minister Scott Morrison has downplayed suggestions from US President Donald Trump that work to build the Williamtown-based Joint Strike Fighters should shift back to America.
Mr Trump told Fox News that he hopes to end offshore manufacturing of parts for the F35 Joint Strike Fighter, which was an integral part of encouraging nations to buy into the initial Lockheed Martin program.
Joint strike fighters fly out of the Hunter RAAF base after deliveries in December last year took the region's fleet of the aircraft to 13.
The aircraft are part of a multi-billion dollar investment by the federal government designed to build a national fleet of more than 70 at a cost of $17 billion.
The jets are due to enter service this year.
"It's a certain fighter jet, I won't tell you which, but it happens to be the F-35," Mr Trump said.
"We make parts for this jet all over the world, we make them in Turkey, we make them here, we make them there. The problem is if we have a problem with a country, you can't make the jet.
"We get parts from all over the place, it's so crazy. We should make everything in the United States. We're doing it because I'm changing all those policies."
Details are scant on how any potential changes would work to the program, which was originally designed with parts manufactured around the world to share the economic boost to buyer nations.
If the suggestion of shifting all that to America goes ahead, the US move would threaten thousands of Australian jobs and billions of dollars worth of local defence contracts.
Some contracts pertaining to the aircraft are held in the Hunter by firms in the area around the RAAF base, albeit not in manufacturing parts.
BAE Australia estimated at the time of the aircraft's delivery their work on the jets "will see about 400 jobs created over the next 10 years and a requirement for this level of employment for the 30-plus years duration of the contract".
The company is contracted by the federal government to do sustainment work from Williamtown to keep the jets purchased by the Australian government in top condition as opposed to working on their initial construction.
It is understood other firms in Australia that manufacture parts that go into every F35 produced are more likely to bear the brunt of any American reconfiguration if it were to proceed.
The company updated suppliers on Tuesday on the impact of coronavirus, offering an insight into its expenditure in Australia.
"Every year, BAE Systems Australia spends over $330 million across some 1500 local suppliers in Australia," the company said in that update.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison cautioned against "getting too far ahead of oneself" in reading into the US president's statement.
"We'll see what occurs there as it rolls out," he told reporters in Canberra on Friday.
"But we have our contracts and arrangements in place for all of those matters, so we'll continue to pursue them in the normal way."