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Australia to boost air combat capability with 58 new F-35 aircraft


F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Photo: Australian MoD

CANBERRA (BNS): Australia will acquire 58 new F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter aircraft in a major boost to the ADF's intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.

The total capital cost of $12.4 billion for this acquisition includes the cost of associated facilities, weapons and training, the Ministry of Defence said in a statement.

Around $1.6 billion in new facilities and infrastructure will be constructed, including at RAAF Base Williamtown in New South Wales and RAAF Base Tindal in the Northern Territory.

The first F-35 aircraft will arrive in Australia in 2018 and enter service with the Royal Australian Air Force in 2020.

Together with the Super Hornet and Growler electronic warfare aircraft, the F-35 aircraft will ensure Australia maintains a regional air combat edge, it said.

The F-35 will replace the F/A-18A/B Classic Hornet aircraft.

For over three decades, the Classic Hornet has been the backbone of Australia's air combat capability. These aircraft have delivered exceptional service to Australia's security but will be withdrawn from service by 2022.

The new 58 F-35 aircraft, in addition to the 14 already approved in 2009, will provide the RAAF with a total of 72 aircraft to form three operational squadrons and one training squadron.

The Government will also consider the option of acquiring an additional squadron of F-35 aircraft to replace the Super Hornets in the future.

Australia has been working with the United States as a partner in the Joint Strike Fighter programme since the Coalition joined in 2002.


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