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Australia's first F-35A JSF makes maiden flight


The first of Australia's F-35A Lightening II Joint Strike Fighters successfully taking flight from Fort Worth, Texas on 29th September. An MoD photo

CANBERRA (BNS): The first F-35A Joint Strike Fighter for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has undergone its maiden flight test at a facility in the US on September 29.

The new fifth-generation fighter, designated AU-1, made its inaugural flight, "marking another significant milestone for the Australian F-35 programme," Defence Minister David Johnston announced on October 1.

The first two F-35A Lightning II fighters for the RAAF were rolled out at Lockheed Martin's facility in Fort Worth, Texas on 24th July, 2014.

"Australia's first aircraft AU-1 and AU-2 will undergo further flight testing in the lead up to acceptance and ferry to Luke Air Force Base in 2015," the Defence Minister said.

The first F-35 aircraft, scheduled for delivery later this year, will enter service in Australia in 2018.

The Australian Government has so far committed to buying a total of 72 JSFs at a cost of USD 12.4 billion, with an option to acquire another 28 in the next few years.

The remaining F-35 fighters are scheduled to be delivered from 2017 through 2022.

The F-35As will replace the RAAF's current fleet of ageing F/A-18A/B Hornets.

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