The first two of Australia’s 72-strong fleet of Joint Strike Fighters officially arrived in Williamtown Air Base near Newcastle on Monday, TheAustralian reported.
The Australian military air base welcomed the first two new fighters at a cost of $US100 million. As of today, these aircraft will be the most expensive acquisition in the history of the Royal Australian Air Force. Originally, the planes were scheduled to arrive in 2013 but a blowout into schedule pushed delivery back five years.
According to the Air Force Chief Air Marshall Leo Davies, the planes are designed to integrate air, sea and land forces, represented a historic occasion for the RAAF. Davies added the F-35 requires a new way of thinking and a new way of operating. Another good news for the RAAF’s pilots is by the end of next year, a further eight jets will have arrived. By 2023 we will have all 72.
Defence Minister noted that the arrival of two planes is extremely timely for Australia, the delivery in the midst of the largest military build-up in Australian peacetime history is important. “What this proves to us all is that Australia is capable of creating and sustaining a very important Air Force, a very significant military capability and delivering a project as large as $17 billion, the largest acquisition of an Air Force platform in our history,” Mr Pyne said.
About 56 of Australia’s JSFs will be based at Williamtown, the remainder of the fleet will be at RAAF base Tindal, near Katherine in the Northern Territory.