Minister for Defence Senator the Hon Marise Payne today welcomed the announcement by the United States Air Force (USAF) declaring Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter
The USAF today announced the F-35A is now equipped to conduct basic close air support, interdiction, and limited suppression/destruction of enemy air defences in contested environments.
The USAF joins the United States Marine Corps in proving the F-35A and F-35B are combat-ready.
Minister for Defence Senator the Hon Marise Payne said this significant milestone is a sign of maturity in the global F-35A capability.
“USAF IOC provides confidence for the Australian F-35 Program which will invest in 72 F-35A aircraft,” Minister Payne said.
“Australia is working closely with the USAF and other global partners to prepare for the introduction of the F-35A into Australia, with the first two Australian aircraft scheduled to arrive in December 2018.”
Australia has 32 full time personnel supporting the F-35 Program in the United States across a range of specialisations ensuring Australia has a key role in shaping Australian outcomes for this fifth generation capability.
Australia currently has two F-35A aircraft and three qualified pilots at Luke Air Force Base Arizona, with a further pilot currently undergoing training.
“More than 150 F-35 aircraft have now flown more than 65,000 hours and three Australian pilots are among more than 300 international pilots who have now qualified,” Minister Payne said.
Australian F-35A aircraft have flown a combined total of around 700 hours as at August 2016.
Australia’s next eight aircraft will be received in 2018 which will initially operate as part of the pool of aircraft at the F-35 Pilot Training Centre at Luke Air Force Base.
Australia’s initial two aircraft will be transported to Australia in December 2018 and will be the first to be based in Australia at RAAF Base Williamtown.
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