Boeing has announced it plans to build an unmanned military aircraft manufacturing facility near Toowoomba that could create more than 300 jobs across regional Queensland.
- Boeing’s uncrewed Loyal Wingman planes could be built at Wellcamp airport, west of Brisbane
- The project could create hundreds of jobs
- It’s the first time Boeing would set up a facility of this scale outside of the US
The site at the Wellcamp Aerospace and Defence Precinct would be the final assembly point for the Loyal Wingman planes, with the project subject to defence orders.
The combat aircraft with artificial intelligence is designed to operate as a team to extend the capabilities of other crewed and uncrewed planes.
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’s managing director Scott Carpendale said they were still working with the Queensland government and the Wagner Corporation, which owns the Wellcamp site, about how much the project would cost.
Plans are underway to have it build in the “middle of the decade”.
“We’ve been working with the federal government, through the design test certification phase, obviously very confident to move to production phase,” he said.
“To support that we will need a production facility in the middle of this decade and so that’s the timing that we’re working towards.”
He said Boeing did not have an order yet from the federal government but he was confident that process would commence.
“Every indication is they’re very confident and very happy with the capability that the aircraft provides and we’re very confident we’re going get to that point,” he said.
Mr Carpendale said there was also interest from other countries.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the project was expected to create 300 jobs and 70 operational jobs.
She said it was the first time Boeing would set up 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, essentially [it’s] because we’ve had that strong health response [to COVID-19],” Ms Palaszczuk said.
Queensland hopes to become leader of aerospace industry
Treasurer Cameron Dick said the federal government is working very closely with Boeing on determining an order for the aircraft.
“Subject to those final decisions, that facility will be built here and the aircraft will be made in Queensland,” he said.
The Queensland government could support the venture through tax relief.
“If there are incentives we can provide, if there is support we can provide whether that be a direct support, whether it be taxation relief for companies, we always look to do that,” Mr Dick said.
Mr Dick said Queensland had a 10-year plan to grow the aerospace and aviation industry.
“We want this facility to be constructed here to be attractive … for 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 “multi-generational” legacy for Toowoomba.
“Our vision for this precinct is to be the epicentre of aerospace and defence development, advanced manufacturing, globally, research and development and education,” he said.