Ex-Jetstar Airline Staff Joins Australian F-35 Fighter Program

December 8, 2020 Updated: December 8, 2020

More than 20 former Jetstar workers have been recruited to join Australia’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.

The 25 employees have started training with BAE Systems to sustain Australia’s growing fleet of F-35A Lightning II and Hawk Lead-in Fighter aircraft.

Following their training, 21 aviation technicians and logisticians will support the RAAF with ongoing maintenance of Australia’s F-35A fleet at RAAF Base Williamtown in NSW.

Four technicians and logisticians will work on the Hawk at BAE’s facility.

Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said the workers were recently made redundant after Jetstar closed its aircraft maintenance facility near Newcastle in NSW.

“These workers, who will start their new roles in January, will be retained in the local aviation industry while simultaneously helping Defence build its sovereign F-35A sustainment capability,” she said.

The defence minister will make a series of announcements about the F-35 program on December 9.

More than 50 Australian businesses have shared in $2.7 billion worth of contracts associated with the fifth-generation aircraft.

Senator Reynolds is set to announce a five-year $100 million contract with Lockheed Martin Australia to supply training support services.

That includes the operation and maintenance of six mission simulators at Williamtown, while there are also plans to install four more at the NT’s Tindal base next year.

“The simulators at RAAF Bases Williamtown and Tindal have the ability to be networked together and share mission data to greatly enhance training,” Senator Reynolds said.

The government will also spend $4 million on an industry support program offering grants for companies to become established in the F-35 production and supply chain.

Matt Coughlan in Canberra