Australia has taken delivery of its first two F-35A Joint Strike Fighters at RAAF’s base in Williamtown.
The acceptance ceremony was attended by Defence Minister Christopher Pyne and Defence Industry Minister Steven Ciobo who welcomed the aircraft and RAAF fighter pilots flying the final leg in the journey from Luke Air Force Base Arizona.
Minister Pyne said the Joint Strike Fighter will bring game-changing capabilities to the Australian Defence Force.
“This is the most advanced, multi-role stealth fighter in the world. It will deliver next generation capability benefits and provide a major boost to our intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities,” Minister Pyne said.
“The Joint Strike Fighter can get closer to threats undetected; find, engage and jam electronic signals from targets; and share information with other platforms.”
The Joint Strike Fighter is the largest acquisition in the history of the Royal Australian Air Force which is investing over $17 billion to acquire at least 72 aircraft.
Minister Ciobo said the Lockheed-Martin-built aircraft presented significant opportunities for Australian defence industry to create new jobs.
“Australian industry is manufacturing parts that will be fitted to every F-35 in production globally, and more than 50 Australian companies have directly shared in $1.2 billion in production contracts to date,” Minister Ciobo said.
“Up to 1500 contractors have worked on the construction of the facilities to accommodate the F-35A at RAAF Base Williamtown, representing approximately $1 billion of investment in the Hunter region alone.”
The two F-35A Joint Strike Fighters – to be operated by the Air Force’s Number 3 Squadron – will be based at RAAF Base Williamtown and at RAAF Base Tindal in the Northern Territory.