Australia Takes Delivery of Tenth F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter

The tenth F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) to be delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has arrived at U.S. Air Force’s Luke Air Force Base (AFB) in Arizona, joining Australia’s other JSF aircraft on the flightline.

Christopher Pyne, Australia’s Minister for Defence, and Steven Ciobo, the Minister for Defence Industry, said the delivery of Australia’s tenth JSF was an important milestone in the Australian JSF Project.

“Our tenth JSF was delivered to RAAF’s No. 3 Squadron at Luke AFB last week following a range of acceptance testing activities authorising delivery,” Minister Pyne said. “This is a key milestone in our acquisition of the JSF, which is the most advanced, affordable fifth-generation multi-role stealth fighter to meet Australia’s need to defeat emerging threats well into the future”.

In a significant achievement for the Australian JSF Project, the RAAF’s ninth and tenth aircraft will operate on the Australian Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) which performs maintenance management, fault diagnostics, supply support, mission planning and training management across the F-35A fleet.

“Until now, all aircraft deliveries went to the F-35 International Pilot Training Centre, which required RAAF maintainers to perform ALIS-related tasks using the American system,” Minister Pyne said. “Operating on Australian ALIS is an important achievement before the JSFs arrive in Australia in December this year.”

Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Steven Ciobo MP, said Australian industry was critical in the establishment of the Australian ALIS.

“Lockheed Martin ALIS administrators and maintenance technicians have been directly supporting the RAAF’s operations at Luke AFB,” Minister Ciobo said. “Effective collaboration between Defence and industry is essential to the Australian F-35A Project and it is pleasing to see continued success in this area. More than 50 Australian companies have directly shared in more than $1 billion in global JSF production contracts to date.”

Australian F-35A Project

The Australian F-35A Project, also known as AIR6000 Phase 2A/2B, is introducing a fifth generation air combat capability to meet Australia’s air combat needs beyond 2030.

Australia’s F-35A will fulfill the functions of air dominance and strike capability currently provided by F/A-18A/B Hornet fighter jets.

In the 2016 Defence White Paper, the Government confirmed that it plans to equip the Air Force with 72 F-35A aircraft by 2023, to meet Final Operating Capability. The Australian F-35A Project is currently on track to meet Initial Operating Capability in December 2020.

In addition to acquiring 72 aircraft, the project will also deliver facilities, weapons and new support systems to meet the fifth generation requirements. The workforce will also need to transition to meet fifth generation approaches to operating and sustaining a fifth generation F-35A fleet as part of a global F-35 network.

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