Base to continue as defence hub
THE Amberley RAAF base will remain one of Australia's major defence hubs despite any government cuts in military spending.
According to the Department of Defence any spending cuts from the Federal Government will have a minimal impact on RAAF base Amberley and its operations.
A Defence spokesperson said the base had a long future in the region.
"RAAF Base Amberley is a major air Force base and will have an enduring presence at Ipswich," the spokesperson said.
The Defence spokesperson would not rule out an expansion of the RAAF's Super Hornet fleet as a stop gap to cover the gap between the retirement of the classic Hornet fleet and the now delayed F-35A Joint Strike Fighters.
"The first two F-35A aircraft will be delivered in the United States of America in 2014. The delivery of the next 12 aircraft, originally scheduled for delivery in the 2015-2017 timeframe, will be delayed by two years," the spokesperson said.
"Defence is currently undertaking a detailed review of air combat capability to enable a decision to be made later this year about the transition timetable of air combat aircraft."
The Amberley RAAF base is currently home to the nation's entire fleet of Super Hornets.
Defence Minister Stephen Smith previously said he would not allow a capacity gap to occur due to the two-year delay of the Joint Strike Fighters.
"...we won't allow a gap in our air combat capability to occur," he said last week.
"Secondly, we would make a judgment in the course of this year about any risk to the capability gap.
"And, thirdly, we'd make a judgment in the course of this year about the timing of the placing of orders for our first 14 Joint Strike Fighters"
The Defence spokesperson said any of the Federal Government's cuts to the department's budget would not have an effect on the aerospace and defence centre set to be built beside the base.
The state-of-the-art precinct is being developed by the Queensland Government, with the Federal Government's involvement ending earlier this year when they agreed to a priority sale of 22.6ha of land to the project.
The land was to be combined with the state's existing 143ha for the aerospace and defence centre. When completed the centre is expected to employ up to 3500 highly skilled workers in the aerospace sector. The centre will also provide support services to the RAAF base.
- THE Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II is the end product of the Joint Strike Fighter program.
- The program was an initiative of the US, British, Canadian and Australian governments, among others, to replace aging fleets of fighters.
- The F-35As stealth fighters will replace the now retired F-111 fleet and the FA-18 classic Hornets.
- The RAAF is expected to acquire around 100 F-35As.