Australia’s third F-35A has rolled off the assembly line at Lockheed Martin’s production facility in Fort Worth, Texas.
The No.3 Squadron markings were applied to the aircraft in early November, the final stage in the production process before the aircraft undergoes several weeks of ground and flight testing at Fort Worth.
Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne said this is another achievement for the project, praising the Australian companies that have been able to contribute to the project so far.
"The completion of our third Joint Strike Fighter is a significant achievement for Australia’s F-35A Project," Minister Pyne said.
"It is particularly exciting that a key component – the tail piece – was manufactured in Australia, by Australian company Marand Engineering."
The minister is expecting even more parts to feature on the global fleet as the project roles on.
"As the program matures, more and more parts on Joint Strike Fighters going to countries around the world will come from Australia," he said.
"More than 50 Australian companies have directly shared in more than $800 million in production contracts thus far, while hundreds more are indirectly benefiting through supply chains."
Further opportunities for Australian industry to participate in the F-35 Program through regional assignments for the repair of the second tranche of aircraft components are expected to be announced in 2018.
Earlier this year, BAE Systems Australia was assigned the role of prime for the F-35 regional warehouse for the Asia-Pacific region. The new assignment, located at Williamtown, has an estimated value of $300 million in operations and infrastructure over the life of the F-35 program and is expected to create 10-15 jobs in Newcastle.
Australia is set to take delivery of its F-35 full mission simulator next year after the first simulator systems were recently delivered to the Israeli, Italian, Japanese and Norwegian air forces.
The RAAF is looking to achieve initial operating capability in December 2020, with 12 aircraft in three squadrons at RAAF Williamtown plus six in a training squadron.
Full operating capability for the 72 aircraft Australia has ordered is planned for the end of 2023.
All facility works at RAAF Base Williamtown in preparation for the aircraft remain on schedule for completion prior to first aircraft arrival in December 2018.