Newcastle company Varley delivers secure shelters for F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Aircraft

6 March 2018

NSW defence company Varley Group is playing an important role in supporting Australia's next generation fighter aircraft.

Varley is working with Lockheed Martin Australia to provide the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) with deployable infrastructure to support the new incoming F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Fleet.

A ceremony at Varley's headquarters at Tomago in Newcastle on 5 March marked the delivery of the first two of 29 deployable shelters as part of a $37.5 million program that is creating 35 jobs for the Hunter and cementing Williamtown as a sustainment hub.

The shelters will provide transportable, secure and environmentally-controlled workspaces for Australian Defence Force personnel to operate information support systems for the F-35 and other Air Force platforms around the world.

Lockheed Martin will complete a technology fit-out of the first two shelters. One will house ICT equipment while the other will provide an operations centre for duty personnel and mission planning.

The shelters will be deployed to Luke Air Force Base in Arizona where they will be used to support operations and maintenance for the first two RAAF F35s planned for delivery to Australia in December 2018.

NSW Defence Advocate Air Marshal (Ret) John Harvey AM said the project aligned with the NSW Government's strategy to grow the State's defence industry in regional areas like Newcastle, and congratulated Varley for the world-class work it is doing.

"This is a great example of a smart regional company manufacturing high quality defence equipment for global supply chains, supporting local jobs and supporting the RAAF’s new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft which will be based nearby at RAAF Williamtown.

“The high value work that Varley is doing is good for Defence, good for the Hunter region and good for NSW."

Lockheed Martin Australia Chief Executive Vince Di Pietro AM CSC said the shelters will play a critical role in the collection, processing and distribution of F-35 data and mission support.

Varley Group Managing Director Jeff Phillips said the shelters are being built with Australian steel and workers from the Hunter providing an opportunity to export to the world.

"Without Lockheed Martin Australia's investment in the Australian defence industry and more importantly in Varley Group, 20 direct Varley jobs including two apprentices and another 50 local jobs downstream in the supply chain would have been lost to the Hunter.

"The Hunter is on the verge of a defence jobs and exports boom. With supporters like Lockheed Martin, the Federal and NSW Governments, RDA Hunter, HunterNet and Newcastle University, I believe this region can become the nation's primary JSF advanced manufacturing hub,” Mr Phillips said.

The contract will also create up to 15 new Australian jobs directly employed by Lockheed Martin Australia across Newcastle, Adelaide and Canberra with the possibility of future follow-on sales and export opportunities when the initial contract ends in April 2020.

Defence is purchasing 72 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft to replace 71 ageing F/A-18 Hornets. The Hunter will be a significant contributor to F-35 sustainment including airframe and component repair, warehousing, field service engineering, logistics support, training services and information systems support roles.