The Australian government announced a major arms deal on Wednesday 23 April. ‘Down under’ will order 58 Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II 5th generation fighter aircraft on top of 14 aircraft already ordered. The deal is worth an estimated 12 billion USD.
The new aircraft will arrive from 2018 onwards and replace the aging Boeing F/A-18A and B Hornets that have been serving the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) for many years. Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s rightist government is said to also consider a further 28 F-35s to replace newer Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet aircraft as well. This may bring the total number of F-35A Lightning II aircraft order by Canberra up to 100.
As part of the procurement, Australia will also invest in its airbases in Williamtown in New South Wales and Tindal in the Northern Territory. These bases are earmarked for future F-35 operations.
The first Australian F-35A is already in production at Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth production line. The aircraft is set to be delivered to the RAAF in the near future, along with a second example. Until 2018, these aircraft will fly from Luke Air Force Base in the US.
© 2014 AIRheads’ editor Elmer van Hest
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