RAAF BASE WILLIAMTOWN and NEWCASTLE, Australia, Dec. 9, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Australia's first two locally-based F-35 fighter aircraft arrived on home soil today at Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Williamtown, signalling the dawn of a new era for the nation's defence capabilities.
Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) designed and built Australia's fleet of F-35s and also serves as the global industry lead for F-35 sustainment.
The most advanced fighter jet ever built, the F-35 will be a catalyst for the transformation of the Australian Defence Force (ADF), utilising its sensors and low observability to operate with impunity in contested airspace and fuse a picture of the battlespace for other air, land and sea assets. Along with its advanced weapons capacity and superior range, the 5th Generation F-35 is the most lethal, survivable and connected fighter in the world.
"The arrival of the first F-35 aircraft to be permanently based in Australia is a historic occasion and we are proud of our role as the 5th Generation design pioneer and F-35 original equipment manufacturer," said Chief Executive of Lockheed Martin Australia, Vince Di Pietro AM, CSC.
"We congratulate the RAAF, the ADF and all of our Australian industry partners who have worked to make this achievement a reality."
Australia Plays Major Role in the F-35 Program
Australian suppliers play a significant role in the F-35 program with more than 50 Australian companies contributing to the global program of record of more than 3,000 aircraft. To date, the F-35 program has secured more than 2,400 highly skilled jobs created and generated more than $1.3 billionAUD in contracts for Australian industry.
"Flown by Australian pilots, maintained by Australian maintenance personnel and containing many best-of-breed advanced components made right here in Australia, all Australians have every reason to be proud of this achievement," Di Pietro said.
"Australia plays a significant role in the program with a suite of local industrial technology and know-how behind the hundreds of F-35s flying today, as well as the thousands of F-35s that will be produced in the future."
Lockheed Martin is the industry lead for F-35 global sustainment and is working in partnership with the Australian Defence Force and local industry to provide sustainment support and realise the full potential of the F-35 as an integrated force multiplier for decades to come.
Australia's has committed to 72 F-35As, which will be flown by Australian pilots, and maintained by a joint team of Australian maintenance personnel and industry partners including Lockheed Martin Australia. Australia has received 10 aircraft to date, the remainder of which are stationed at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona where they are part of the international cooperative F-35 training operations.
F-35 Program Grows Global Impact
Ten nations are currently flying F-35s, and with today's arrival, Australia becomes the 7th nation with F-35 aircraft based locally on their home soil, joining the United States, United Kingdom, Italy, Norway, Israel and Japan.
Additionally, with the formal stand-up of RAAF Williamtown, F-35s are now operating from 16 bases worldwide. More than 340 F-35s are operating today, more than 700 pilots and 6,500 maintainers have been trained and the F-35 fleet has surpassed more than 170,000 cumulative flight hours.