Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Opportunities for Wisconsin companies

The Australian defense sector is experiencing record growth, and industry revenues are expected to increase at an annual average rate of 6.8 percent, reaching $36 billion ($47.7 billion Australian) by 2021-22. The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) is in the midst of a major acquisition cycle, and as multi-billion dollar projects—including the Boeing P-8 Poseidon and F-35 Lightning II programs—gain momentum, the government is prioritizing the upgrade and expansion of RAAF bases around Australia in order to house, maintain and sustain the new aircraft. As such, significant opportunities exist for Wisconsin companies to partner with Australian companies or to supply products directly.

While most advanced manufacturing of the aircraft themselves is specified in detail from the top down, and largely out of the hands of Australian manufacturers, significant opportunities exist for Wisconsin companies to partner with local companies in the supply of goods and services related to aircraft maintenance, as well as the construction of new and improved infrastructure including runways, aircraft hangars, fencing, maintenance facilities, administration buildings, training facilities and control towers. For example, in regards to aircraft maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade (MROU) of the 72 new F-35 Lightning II aircraft—due to be fully operational in Australia by 2023—lifetime support of the aircraft is expected to be worth $26 billion ($34 billion Australian). BAE Systems and RUAG Australia are two companies that have won MROU contracts for the F-35 program and, encouragingly for Wisconsin companies, are open to working with international partners.

Wisconsin companies may find opportunities in the following RAAF projects:

  • Williamtown and Tindal upgrade: To support the F-35A Lightning II program, Defence is investing $1.1 billion ($1.5 billion Australian) to upgrade RAAF facilities at Williamtown, including a squadron headquarters facility, hangars, an off-aircraft maintenance facility and information systems center, new parking aprons and a deep level maintenance facility. $356 million ($470 million Australian) is being invested to upgrade the Tindal RAAF base. Lendlease is the managing contractor for the infrastructure projects.
  • Edinburgh upgrade: To support the arrival of 15 new Boeing P-8 Poseidon aircraft, Defence is investing $288 million ($380 million Australian) to upgrade the RAAF base in Edinburgh (Adelaide), including a new hangar maintenance and operations facility, and operational conversion facility, runway extension and training facilities.
  • Amberley upgrade: CPB Contractors (a division of CIMIC Group) has been awarded the $129 million ($170 million Australian) contract to build a new maintenance facility, an aircraft apron and associated infrastructure at Amberley RAAF base in Queensland to support the Boeing C-17 transport aircraft. ALLROADS was awarded the $3.4 milloin ($4.5 million Australian) contract for earthworks and road construction by Lendlease.
  • RAAF air traffic control (ATC): Defence is investing $310 million ($410 million Australian) at locations around Australia to upgrade ATC facilities including new and refurbished air traffic control towers, airfield facilities, air traffic management systems and support buildings.

In general, Australian defense products and services are advertised and sourced via AusTender. Wisconsin exporters with experience in supplying the sector are encouraged to:

  • register interest by creating an AusTender profile;
  • review the projects above to identify any areas of opportunity;
  • stay abreast of project updates and opportunities by reviewing ICN Gateway and registering with a local tender portal such as TenderLink; and
  • connect with new or existing partners regarding opportunities in the Australian market.