The F-35A Lightning II will provide for Australia’s future air combat and strike needs.
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.
In the future, a fourth operational squadron will be considered for RAAF Base Amberley, for a total of 100 F-35As.
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.
The F-35A will provide Australia with a fifth generation aircraft at the forefront of air combat technology, to provide a networked force-miltiplier effect in terms of situational awareness and combat effectiveness.
Capable of supersonic flight whilst retaining stealth, the F-35A has extraordinary acceleration, agility and 9G manoeuvrability.
The F-35A is characterised by a low profile design; internal weapons and fuel carriage; advanced radar; electro-optical and infrared sensors with advanced voice and data link communications; and the ability to employ a wide range of air-to-surface and air-to-air weapons.
The F-35A is the most suitable aircraft to replace the aging F/A-18A/B Hornets.
On 17 July 2015, the Department of the Environment published the approval decision for the flying operations of the F-35A, following consideration of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The Approval Decision includes a range of conditions. More information on the approval decision and conditions are available here at http://www.defence.gov.au/AirCraftNoise/Environment/F35EIS.asp.
The F-35A is being purchased by Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group under project AIR 6000.