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Large size plane in hanger in preparation for maintenance

A major defence industry facility that will provide an important sovereign capability and create hundreds of jobs in Adelaide’s northern suburbs is a step closer to reality, with a call out for a principal contractor to build it.

Renewal SA this week released an Expression of Interest campaign to find a development partner to construct the Deeper Maintenance and Modification Facility (DMMF) at Penfield – including a 240m-long, 25m-high four-bay hangar that will be used to service military aircraft operated by the Commonwealth Department of Defence.

The purpose-built facility is designed to accommodate the long-term maintenance and servicing requirements for the Defence Force’s fleet of P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft and E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control aircraft – both Boeing 737 variants, which have major modification programs planned over the latter half of this decade.

This facility will enable that maintenance and upgrade work to be completed in Australia. Without such a facility, these planes would need to be serviced offshore.

The Expression of Interest is the first in a two-stage market process to deliver this landmark project in an emerging employment zone, and to provide Department of Defence with key infrastructure capability adjacent to one of its defence super bases.

Running concurrent to the first stage of the construction tender, is a development application for the 2.1-hectare facility, which is being assessed by the State Commission Assessment Panel.

The facility - located on Womma Road adjacent to RAAF Base Edinburgh - will be leased to the Commonwealth under a long-term arrangement and will also include warehousing, workshops, and offices.

The project is expected to deliver 450 full time construction jobs per year during the build and up to 160 new long-term, highly skilled defence industry jobs including roles in advanced aircraft maintenance, engineering, avionics and logistics. This is in addition to more than two dozen staff already maintaining the P-8A Poseidon at an interim facility within the nearby RAAF base.

RAAF plane in the sky

Image is for illustrative purposes

Minister for Housing and Urban Development Nick Champion said the project was of national significance – a key piece of infrastructure that further expanded the state’s defence focus and an investment that aligns with the National Defence: Defence Strategic Review 2023.

“This project will not only deliver an important boost to our sovereign capability, but it will also create hundreds of jobs in the northern suburbs,” Minister Champion said.

“Our State’s capabilities are being sought across all arms of the nation’s defence force, from state-of-the-art aircraft to nuclear-powered submarines.

“South Australia is at the forefront of the nation’s defence industry and the local opportunities that follow are why we are determined to keep leading the pack – and build our status as the home of defence jobs for future generations.”

Renewal SA Chief Executive Chris Menz said the project was the result of a strong collaborative effort between the State and Commonwealth Government, and one which would lead to significant employment and economic opportunities for South Australia.

Renewal SA is seeking a suitably qualified and experienced construction partner for this project, as we continue to roll-out a pipeline of significant contract opportunities within our industrial portfolio.

Renewal SA Chief Executive Chris Menz

“Going forward, many of these projects will support the nation’s defence capabilities, presenting increased opportunities for partnering contractors to expand and strengthen their presence in a burgeoning sector as South Australia prepares to deliver some of the biggest military projects in the country’s history.”

City of Playford Mayor Glenn Docherty said the northern suburbs were synonymous with both manufacturing and defence.

“The region has historically demonstrated that it has a capable, experienced and willing workforce and I expect that to continue during the construction and ongoing operation of this facility” Mayor Docherty said.

“The Playford Council area, through the Greater Edinburgh Parks precinct, is expected to be a key employment area into the future, and the City welcomes investment that delivers local jobs for our growing and diverse community, while supporting a sector that is extremely important to our State.”

South Australia was nominated as the preferred location for the DMMF in 2021, and the State Government, through Renewal SA and Defence SA, has been working collaboratively with the Commonwealth Government since that time to progress the project to this point.

Subject to the necessary Commonwealth and State approvals, construction of the DMMF is expected to commence at the start of next year (2024), with the facility operational by mid-2025.

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