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Photo Essay: RAAF’s F-35 fleet grows

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Two more F-35A Lightning II aircraft have arrived to Royal Australian Air Force Base Williamtown to link up with No. 3 Squadron (3SQN).

The two F-35As arrived from Luke Air Force Base in the US earlier this week.

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With the arrival of the fifth-generation fighters, the 3SQN fleet has now grown to six aircraft.

The F-35A Lightning II is the Australian Defence Force’s first fifth-generation air combat capability and is a highly advanced multi-role, supersonic, stealth fighter that will meet Australia’s requirements to defeat current and emerging threats.

The first F-35A aircraft was accepted into Australian service in 2018 and the Air Force expects 3SQN will be operational in 2021.

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.

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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. 

All 72 aircraft are expected to be fully operational by 2023. 

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.

Photo Essay: RAAF’s F-35 fleet grows
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