American plane-maker Boeing intends to establish a manufacturing and production facility to produce combat drones in Australia.
On Wednesday, the Boeing press release said that its subsidiary Boeing Australia will establish the facility in the Wellcamp Aerospace and Defence Precinct at Wellcamp Airport to produce and assemble the Boeing Airpower Teaming System (also known as Loyal Wingman), the first military combat aircraft designed, developed and manufactured in Australia in half a century.
As noted by the company, the aircraft made its first flight in February 2021.
The partnership to establish the facility will create new opportunities for Toowoomba, bringing jobs and skill development to the region and the state.
“In choosing Wellcamp Airport, Boeing have taken an important step towards delivering their purpose-built final assembly facility. This has the potential to greatly improve our state’s advanced manufacturing capability and help shape a workforce of Queenslanders with the skills to build some of the world’s most cutting-edge aircraft,” said Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.
Wagner Corporation expects that this facility will support approximately 300 jobs during construction and will create highly skilled jobs, furthering Queensland’s status as a centre for defence industries.
Treasurer and Minister for Investment Cameron Dick said today’s announcement reinforced the strength of the state’s almost 25-year relationship with Boeing.
“This announcement follows our success with Australia’s first commercial drone flight testing facility at Cloncurry Airport last December, of which Boeing was a first user. It’s the result of an arrangement our government entered into with Boeing Australia last year to support the establishment of the primary final assembly facility for the Boeing Loyal Wingman here in Queensland, subject to defence orders. It’s expected the project could generate up to $1 billion dollars for Queensland’s economy over 10 years, with more than just defence industries to benefit,” said Dick.
This project delivers on the vision of the Queensland Defence Industries 10-year Roadmap and Action Plan, which aims to significantly increase defence revenue and generate 3,500 new full-time jobs by 2028.
The uncrewed aircraft is designed to operate as a team, using artificial intelligence to extend the capabilities of crewed and uncrewed platforms.
Boeing Defence Australia Vice President and Managing Director Scott Carpendale believes the selection of Wellcamp Airport as Boeing’s preferred location for the company’s first final assembly production facility is indicative of Boeing’s global focus and support for Australia’s sovereign defence capability growth, supply chain and export opportunities.
“We are confident in the future production outlook for this world-class, innovative aircraft,” said Carpendale.
“We’re thinking long-term about this investment, which could assist Australia to gain future work share in other global defence and aerospace opportunities, in addition to the Loyal Wingman assembly.
“The Wellcamp Aerospace and Defence Precinct location is attractive due to its access to a flight line, clear flying days, commercial flight access from major cities and ability to support the rapid pace at which the Airpower Teaming System program is growing.
“Sustainable aerospace is a critical focus for Boeing, and Wagner Corporation’s use of sustainable construction methods supports our vision to create a leading sustainable aerospace manufacturing facility from the ground up, including renewable technologies and human-centric design,” Carpendale said.
Wagner Corporation Chairman John Wagner said Boeing’s selection of Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport for its newest uncrewed aircraft production facility was a major boost for the region.
“Attracting investment and global companies such as Boeing to Toowoomba is recognition of the strategic advantages the Wellcamp Airport site offers, including access to the future Inland Rail,” Wagner said.
Boeing Australia is currently developing six aircraft in partnership with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), with flight testing ongoing.