The Australian Defence Force now has an F-35A squadron ready to conduct technologically advanced strike and air combat roles.
Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC said in the Australian Government media release that the F-35s are the most advanced, multi-role stealth fighter in the world.
“The fifth-generation F-35A, along with the F/A-18F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler, is key to our air combat capability and critical to achieving the objectives set out in the 2020 Defence Strategic Update to Shape, Deter and Respond,” Minister Reynolds said.
“For the last two years, Defence has rigorously tested the F-35A fleet to assess aircraft and system performance, and declare this important milestone.
“I would like to thank everyone that has worked so hard to get us to this point; to have accomplished all the required testing and materiel delivery is remarkable.
“The Australian Defence Force now has an F-35A squadron ready to conduct technologically advanced strike and air combat roles, and another squadron dedicated to providing world-class training here in Australia.
“While 2020 presented significant challenges to all of us, and travel restrictions made it difficult to ferry our aircraft to Australia, the huge efforts of Defence, industry and our partners in the United States made today’s achievement possible.”
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said cooperation with industry had set Defence up for long-term success.
“Our defence industry has played a critical role in achieving today’s milestone, which continues the success story of Australia’s involvement in the F-35 global program,” Minister Price said.
“Just last month we announced that more than 50 Australian companies have shared in $2.7 billion in contracts, demonstrating the Morrison Government’s commitment to backing Australian industry and supporting Australian jobs.
“Australia will continue to work with the United States F-35 Joint Program Office and our industry partners as more aircraft are delivered through to 2023, and a mature capability is achieved.”
The F-35A Lightning II is the Australian Defence Force’s first fifth-generation air combat capability.
Australia has committed to 72 F-35A aircraft for three operational squadrons at RAAF Base Williamtown and RAAF Base Tindal, and a training squadron at RAAF Base Williamtown. The first F-35A aircraft was accepted into Australian service in 2018, with the first arriving in country in December that year.
The first F-35A squadron, No. 3 Squadron, will be operational in 2021. All 72 aircraft are expected to be fully operational by 2023.
Photo credit: CPL David Said / Royal Australian Air Force