View Full Version : Australian Government Okays F-35 Purchase

11-27-2009, 12:50 PM
The Australian government has decided to buy 14 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters now and not review its larger commitment for operational squadrons for another few years.

After weeks of discussions, Canberra says it will put A$3.2 billion ($3 billion) into the U.S.-based Lockheed Martin program to start receiving aircraft in 2014 for testing and training. The aircraft will operate in the U.S. The spending also will buy infrastructure and support.

In 2012, the government then plans to make a decision on whether to proceed with buying at least 72 F-35s to equip three Royal Australian Air Force operational squadron. Plans call for the first of those to become operational in 2018 and the third in 2021.

“By 2012, [the defense ministry] will have much firmer cost estimates for the remaining aircraft and necessary support and enabling capabilities as part of the planned first multiyear buy that is expected to comprise over 1,000 aircraft for the U.S., Australia and other partners. This will allow for much more effective planning of the final JSF acquisition in the context of the overall Defense Capability Plan,” says the defense minister, Sen. John Faulkner.

Australia had indicated it would buy 100 F-35s. That’s still a possibility, although the decision will not be made until much later and depend on what will happen with the F/A-18F fleet.

The RAAF will field conventional-takeoff-and-landing versions of the multi-role fighter.