Boeing has announced plans to build an unmanned military aircraft manufacturing plant near Toowoomba that could create more than 300 jobs in the Queensland area.
- Boeing’s unmanned Loyal Wingman planes could be built at Wellcamp Airport, west of Brisbane
- The project could create hundreds of jobs
- This is the first time that Boeing has installed a facility of this scale outside the United States.
The Wellcamp Aerospace and Defense Zone site would be the final assembly point for Loyal Wingman aircraft, with the project subject to defense orders.
The artificial intelligence fighter plane is designed to work as a team to expand the capabilities of other manned or unmanned aircraft.
It made its first flight in February and was the first of its kind designed, developed and manufactured in Australia in half a century.
Boeing Australia chief executive Scott Carpendale said they were still working with the Queensland government and the Wagner Corporation, which owns the Wellcamp site, on the cost of the project.
Plans are underway to build it in the “mid-decade”.
“We have worked with the federal government, throughout the certification phase of the design testing, obviously very confident to move into the production phase,” he said.
“To support this we will need a production facility in the middle of this decade and so this is the timeline we are working towards.”
He said Boeing has yet to receive an order from the federal government, but is confident the process will begin.
“Everything indicates that they are very confident and very satisfied with the capacity provided by the aircraft and we are very confident to get there,” he said.
Mr Carpendale said there was interest from other countries as well.
Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk said the project is expected to create 300 jobs and 70 operational jobs.
She said it was the first time that Boeing had installed a facility of this scale outside of North America.
“When we look at diversifying our economy and the fact that we can actually have opportunities like this here in Queensland, basically [it’s] because we had this strong health response [to COVID-19]”said Ms Palaszczuk.
Queensland hopes to become the leader in the aerospace industry
Treasurer Cameron Dick said the federal government was working closely with Boeing to determine an aircraft order.
“Subject to these final decisions, this facility will be built here and the aircraft will be manufactured in Queensland,” he said.
The Queensland government could support the business through tax breaks.
“If there are incentives we can provide, if there is support we can provide, whether it’s direct support, tax relief for businesses, we are always looking to do that. “said Mr. Dick.
Mr Dick said Queensland has a 10-year plan to develop the aerospace and aviation industry.
“We want this facility to be built here to be attractive (…) to other people who want to invest in advanced manufacturing technology, aviation and aerospace,” he said.
Wagner Group Chairman John Wagner said the project would create a “multigenerational” legacy for Toowoomba.
“Our vision for this chamber is to be the epicenter of aerospace and defense development, advanced manufacturing, globally, research and development and education,” said he declared.