F-35s touch down in Australia for the first time

An Australian F-35A Joint Strike Fighter (A35-002) at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona (USA) Credit: Lockheed Martin

Australia’s first tranche of F-35 warplanes touched down in Australia yesterday, according to the Guardian.

The two planes of Australia’s 72 pre-ordered fleet arrived at the Amberley air force base. The rest of the planes are expected between 2018 to 2023 at a cost per plane of US$94m (A$122m).

Australia is committed to the purchase, despite ongoing problems with the F-35 systems.

Australia’s first F-35 jets are currently based at Luke air force base in Arizona, with four RAAF pilots training to fly the fifth-generation aircraft. The F-35 will replace the ageing A/B Classic Hornets.

US president Donald Trump has previously mentioned curtailing the program in the USA, which could increase the cost per jet in Australia.

US Studies Centre research director, James Brown, previously told Sky News that Australia could seriously be affected if Trump made changes to the program.

“The joint strike fighter, without the US, does not exist: the US is buying the greatest number … if Donald Trump were to cancel that project after 20 January, 2017 that would leave Australia pretty exposed,” Brown said.

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