Australia accepts latest batch of F-35s

Image via Twitter @MarisePayne

Australia has taken delivery of its next three fifth-generation F-35A aircraft from Lockheed Martin. 

Minister for Defence Marise Payne and Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne congratulated Defence and Lockheed Martin on reaching the milestone.

Minister Payne said Australia's F-35 program is on track to provide Australia with a fifth-generation aircraft at the forefront of air combat technology.

"These latest aircraft are fitted with the program’s final software system, which unlocks the aircraft’s full war-fighting potential including weapons, mission systems and flight performance," Minister Payne said.

"The stealthy, advanced F-35A is a step change in the Australian Defence Force’s capabilities, giving Australia an edge against the emergence of advanced capabilities in our region."

Acceptance of the three latest aircraft makes Australia the first international partner to accept jets with Block 3F capability.

Minister Pyne said this is another significant point in the Joint Strike Fighter program.

Australia now has five aircraft at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona where RAAF pilots are currently training. Five more aircraft are scheduled for delivery by the end of 2018.

Minister Pyne said the economic benefits of the program are being felt at a local level, wither over 50 Australian companies part of the program's supply chain.

“More than 50 Australian companies have directly shared in more than $1 billion in production contracts to date, providing further opportunities to small and medium Australian businesses which benefit through supply chain work," Minister Pyne said.

"In 2016, the F-35 Program supported more than 2,400 jobs across Australia, which is set to grow to 5,000 by 2023.'

The Australian government is investing in 72 F-35A Lightning II aircraft to replace the current fleet of 71 ageing F/A-18A/B Classic Hornets.

Australia accepts latest batch of F-35s
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