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The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has announced that its billion dollar fleet of Joint Strike Fighters is operational two years after the first F-35As were shipped from the United States.
Since 2018, the controversial stealth fighters have been « rigorously tested » by the Ministry of Defense, which has now determined that they have achieved « Initial Operating Capability » (IOC). .
So far, Australia has accepted 30 of the Lockheed Martin-designed aircraft, but will eventually acquire 72 Joint Strike Fighters from the US at a cost of $ 17 billion.
Secretary of Defense Linda Reynolds welcomed the IOC’s milestone and described the F-35A as critical to the Australian armed forces.
« The fifth generation F-35A, along with the F / A-18F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler, is the key to our air combat capabilities and critical to achieving the goals set out in the 2020 Defense Strategy Update Form, deterrence and response were set, « Ms. Reynolds said.
« The Australian Defense Forces now have an F-35A squadron ready to perform technologically advanced strike and air combat roles, and another squadron dedicated to providing world-class training here in Australia. «
Defense claims the F-35A has the world’s most advanced air combat technology that allows it to gather more information and share it with other aircraft, naval vessels and army units faster than ever before.
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The RAAF now has more than 40 qualified F-35A pilots and 220 maintenance personnel trained on the F-35A.
Defense Industry Secretary Melissa Price said 50 Australian companies have shared $ 2 so far. 7 billion contracts to build the JSF for various partner countries around the world.
« Australia will continue to work with the United States’ F-35 Joint Program Office and our industrial partners as more aircraft are delivered and a mature capability is achieved through 2023, » Ms. Price said.
Australia first signed the controversial JSF program in 2002, and successive federal governments have been criticized for delays and cost savings on the billion dollar project.
Earlier this year, U.S. President Donald Trump sparked uncertainty and confusion among Australian defense companies after threatening to suspend offshore manufacturing for parts of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.
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Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, Australia, F-35A, Commissioning, Royal Australian Air Force, Linda Reynolds, Secretary of Defense, RAAF Base Williamtown
World News – AU – Australia’s Joint Strike Fighters declared operational
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