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RAAF welcomes next fifth-generation fighters

RAAF welcomes next fifth-generation fighters

Minister for Defence Christopher Pyne and Defence Industry Minister Linda Reynolds have officially announced the arrival of Australia’s next two F-35A fighter aircraft.

Minister for Defence Christopher Pyne and Defence Industry Minister Linda Reynolds have officially announced the arrival of Australia’s next two F-35A fighter aircraft.

Minister Pyne, together with Minister Reynolds announced the arrival of the next two F-35A Joint Strike Fighter aircraft into Australia.

"I’m pleased to welcome our newest F-35As, A35-011 and A35-012, bringing the total number of aircraft in Australia to four," Minister Pyne said.

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"After completing various validation and verification activities in the United States, these aircraft have now arrived at RAAF Base Williamtown and will be assigned to Number 3 Squadron." 

Minister Reynolds said the F-35A program has provided significant opportunities for Australian industry: "More than 50 Australian companies have directly shared in over $1.3 billion in global F-35A production contracts to date, employing more than 2,400 Australians."

"More opportunities are expected for Australian companies as production continues, with Australian industry involvement expected to exceed $2 billion by 2023 and employ 5,000 people nationally," Minister Reynolds added. 

For the RAAF, the F-35A's combination of full-spectrum, low-observable stealth coatings and materials, advanced radar-dispersing shaping, network-centric sensor and communications suites – combined with a lethal strike capability – means the aircraft will be the ultimate force multiplying, air-combat platform.

The F-35A – the variant chosen by the RAAF – will have with a projected life of 30 years in service.

More than 340 F-35s are operating today with partner nations, more than 700 pilots and 6,500 maintainers have been trained, and the F-35 fleet has surpassed more than 170,000 cumulative flight hours.

Australia will take delivery of eight F-35A aircraft in 2019 and, over the coming years, Australia will purchase 72 of the advanced fifth-generation fighter aircraft as part of the $17 billion AIR 6000 Phase 2A/B program – which is aimed at replacing the ageing F/A-18A/B Classic Hornets that have been in service with the RAAF since 1985.