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AU to Make Most Expensive Military Purchase to Date

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By Athena Yenko | March 12, 2014 2:37 PM EST

A submission to buy involving Australia's purchase of 86 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, worth $90 million each - the most expensive military purchase to date - is to be presented to Cabinet's National Security Committee for approval any day from  March 12 until March 16.

The overall project was estimated at a cost of $14 billion within the 30-year life of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The planes will roll off the assembly line from 2018 until 2020.

After some "trust and credibility" issues concerning the chief contractor Lockheed Martin and engine maker Pratt and Whitney, U.S. Air Force Lieutenant General Chris Bogdan confirmed that the partnership still ensues.

"The leadership of Lockheed Martin doing a much better job of listening to the customer, which is us,'' Mr Bogdan told News Corp.

In total, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter involves a purchase of 2400 "fifth generation" fighters. US will purchase 2,443 of the fighters comprising of 1,763 conventional 'A' models for the air force, 360 'B' or vertical landing versions for the U.S. marine corps and 360 'C' or carrier models for the U.S. Navy.

 "I have not lost a single penny in terms of development, in terms of getting it done  on time,'' General Bogdan said.

As early as Oct 11, 2013, the first of the fighter jets were already on the production line at Lockheed's Forth Worth factory as confirmed by a statement from the Royal Australian Air Force's (RAAF).

The Royal Australian Air Force's (RAAF) first Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) is already at its major assembly stage at the Lockheed-martin facility in Forth Worth, Texas, said RAAF on the statement dated Oct 11 2013  .

The chief executive officer of the Defence Material Organisation (DMO) Warren King made the official announcement.

Mr King stated that components for Australia's first F-35 are now being pieced together to form the Joint Strike Fighter.

 "Known as AU-1, Australia's first F-35 will now make its way down the assembly line and roll out of the factory for delivery to the RAAF in the summer of 2014. Importantly 14 Australian companies are currently under contract and building parts for the F-35 as part of the global supply chain. Australian industry is expected to gain several billion dollars in industry opportunities over the life of the F-35 program."

Mr King shared that Australia is acquiring the Conventional Take-off and Landing (CTOL) F-35 variant.

 "When integrated into a networked Australian Defence Force, the F-35 will fulfill the functions of air dominance and strike capability currently provided by F/A-18A/B Hornets and F/A-18F Super Hornets," Mr King stated.

The first Australian to fly the fifth generation F-22 Raptor was RAAF fighter pilot  Squadron Leader Matt Harper.

"Stealth makes you unstoppable and reduces an adversaries situational awareness to almost zero. The jet provides an exponential increase in survivability, reduces mission risk and increases the probability of mission success. Information is far more valuable than speed. The F-35 has no peer in terms of information dominance and the sharing of that information," Mr Harper told News Corp.

The only pilot to fly both the F-22 and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter was Lieutenant Colonel Berke.

On May 3, 2013, former Prime Minister Julia Gillard unveiled the 2013 Defence White Paper, stating that Australia remains committed to buying the advanced Lockheed martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. 

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