Aerospace giant to invest $50m in abandoned Ipswich site
AUSTRALIAN Aerospace giant TAE is set to breathe new life into the site of the abandoned Masters warehouse in Bundamba.
TAE Aerospace will increase the footprint of the existing building, investing up to $50 million in a redevelopment that will see the failed hardware store location transformed into what promises to be most advanced military engine maintenance and upgrade facility in the Southern Hemisphere.
The prominent defence contractor spent $12.5 million on the site, with CEO Andrew Sanderson saying that capacity and location were key factors in the acquisition. Local infrastructure links such as the nearby train station sealed the deal.
"It's great for TAE, the Masters warehouse is a really high-spec building with great train and highway access, and the existing structure will save six months of development time," he said.
The already cavernous warehouse building is set to expand by about 80 per cent, with the existing building footprint of 8000sq m increasing to 15,500sq m by the end of the project.
There are also plans to build additional workshops and offices on the existing car park, with parking for 200 cars.
TAE has outgrown its existing home at the Amberley RAAF base, although some processes such as testing will still occur there due to the noise generated.
"We have operated from the RAAF base since 2000 and achieved great outcomes there, but we have outgrown it now and having our workforce spread over multiple buildings is not ideal for productivity," Mr Sanderson said.
While there are extensive redevelopment works planned for the RAAF Base, the lack of available space ruled out TAE expanding its existing facilities there to cater for the volume of new work from Asia-Pacific.
The new Ipswich facility will maintain, repair and overhaul engines for the F/A 18F Super Hornets, Abrams tanks and the F35 Joint Strike Fighter.
It is expected the move will give TAE scope to build staff numbers, with plans to bring 60 new jobs to the area.
"We are looking at onboarding with upwards of 140 staff to begin with and hope to reach 200 by the time the Bundamba site reaches full capacity," Mr Sanderson said.
The site was first developed by the doomed Woolworths-Lowes hardware venture Masters in 2014, which lasted less than two years.
How the fighter will take flight
THE arrival of the F35 Joint Strike Fighter will play a pivotal role in the workforce development of TAE Aerospace's new Bundamba site, its CEO says.
With the next-generation fighter jet taking flight later this year, TAE will be responsible for assembling and maintaining the F135 Pratt and Whitney engines for the RAAF's 72 new jets.
"The F135 Engine maintenance and assembly will take up what is currently the entire eastern end of the Masters building," TAE CEO Andrew Sanderson said.
The former hardware store site will be demarcated into different workflow zones for each engine type, although basic processes such as machining, welding, cleaning and painting will share a common repair centre.
Each engine will have a dedicated team responsible for assembling, repairing and overhauling engines before exporting the finished modules around the world.