The F-35A Joint Strike Fighter is the most advanced, affordable fifth generation multi-role stealth fighter to meet Australia’s need to defeat emerging threats well into the future. The F-35A is truly next-generation due to its stealth capability, advanced sensors, data fusion and its ability to share information with other aircraft, Army units and Navy ships. The Australian Government has approved the purchase of 72 F-35A aircraft to replace F/A-18A/B Hornets. Royal Australian Air Force pilots and maintenance personnel are fully embedded and integrated in USAF squadrons as they prepare to lead Australia’s transition to a fifth-generation Air Force.
The F-35A is at the forefront of air combat technology. Capable of supersonic flight whilst retaining stealth, the F-35A has extraordinary acceleration, agility and 9G manoeuvrability. On 17 July 2015, the Department of the Environment and Energy published the approval decision for the flying operations of the F-35A, after considering the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).Its advanced sensors and data fusion allows it to gather more information and share it with other Air Force aircraft, Navy ships and Army units quicker than ever before. This will greatly enhance the Australian Defence Force’s situational awareness and combat effectiveness. In addition, to greatly enhanced situational awareness, the F-35A provides its pilots with significantly higher levels of lethality and survivability in combat.
Australia has committed to 72 F-35A aircraft for three operational squadrons at RAAF Base Williamtown and RAAF Base Tindal, and a training squadron at RAAF Base Williamtown. The first F-35A aircraft is scheduled to be accepted into Australian service in 2018 and the first squadron, Number 3 Squadron, will be operational in 2021. All 72 aircraft are expected to be fully operational by 2023. In the future, a fourth operational squadron will be considered for RAAF Base Amberley, for a total of 100 F-35A aircraft. The F-35A is being purchased by the Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group under project AIR 6000.