The Hunter economy will receive a $300 million boost from two major defence industry contracts to be announced today.
Downer EDI has been awarded a $164.9 million contract to deliver major airfield upgrade works at Williamtown RAAF Base and Newcastle Airport.
The project is needed for the RAAF's newly acquired F-35A Lightning II fighters. It will also allow Newcastle Airport to accommodate international aircraft.
It is estimated the project will support about 300 jobs with an average of 130 people working on the project each day.
An $80 million contract will also be announced for the delivery of maintenance and supply-chain support for the F-35. The contract will result in the employment of 46 BAE Systems Australia staff in the Hunter who will provide on-the-ground support to the RAAF.
A further $60 million has been allocated to assist Australian companies to develop new and improved capabilities to strengthen their chances of securing contracts in the global F-35 program.
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said Australia's participation in the global F-35 program continued to deliver significant benefits to the Hunter region and the broader national economy.
"This contract with BAE will establish sovereign maintenance and supply-chain support to the Royal Australian Air Force F-35A fleet located at RAAF Bases Williamtown in the Hunter region, and Tindal in the Northern Territory," Minister Price said.
The contract with Downer EDI will also deliver a major boost to the Hunter and state economies.
Ms Price said the government was committed to maximising the opportunities for both local and Indigenous businesses.
"RAAF Base Williamtown is the RAAF's main airbase for fighter pilot training and supports a large defence workforce," she said.
"The project will maintain and improve critical airfield infrastructure to ensure RAAF Williamtown continues to support the projection of Australia's air power and also enable movements of larger civilian aircraft for Newcastle Airport.
"This shows yet again that the Morrison government is supporting Australian jobs and backing our defence industry to deliver the capability our men and women in uniform need to keep Australians safe."
Liberal Patron Senator for the Hunter Region Hollie Hughes said: "I warmly welcome this important investment and the jobs it will subsequently create. This is a great project that will deliver increased airfield capacity for larger civilian aircraft, supporting increased international travel and regional tourism.
"It will also benefit for our local economy with an improved accessibility to international freight for exporting regional produce."
The existing runway will be deepened and widened by about 7 metres on each side to allow wide-bodied aircraft such as the Boeing 787 and Airbus A330 to access the airport.
It is expected to create 4500 jobs and generate an estimated $12.7 billion in economic benefits through international airfreight, industrial expansion and stimulation of the visitor economy over 20 years.
In addition to twice daily international passenger flights, the upgrade will also unlock potentially billions of dollars of export opportunities.
Downer EDI will target local businesses to deliver at least 75 per cent of the total contract value. It has also committed to achieving at least 4.5 per cent Indigenous employment participation in the project.
Construction is due to start in early 2022 and is expected to be completed in late 2023.
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