First Australian F-35A Aircrafts Unveiled from Lockheed-Martin
By Athena Yenko | July 26, 2014 12:46 PM EST
On July 24, 2014, the first two Australian F-35A aircraft - AU-1 and AU-2 - was unveiled out of the Lockheed-Martin F-35 facility in Fort Worth, Defence confirmed in a statement.
The rollout was attended by Senator Mathias Cormann and senior US Government and Defence representatives.
Cormann said that the F-35A will provide 'leading edge' air combat capabilities for the Australian Defence Force for decades to come.
"The most recent approval by this Government of a further tranche of 58 F-35A aircraft on top of the 14 already approved certainly sends a strong message about the Coalition's commitment to building a stronger defence force, and to contributing significantly to security in our region," Cormann said during the rollout.
Australia's partnership in the F-35 program will give the country access to advanced aerospace technology. Through the partnership, the Australian aerospace industrial base will also be transformed.
"The US-Australian Alliance and engagement on collaborative defence programs is crucial to Australia maintaining the capability edge it needs," he said.
Most importantly, it is the Australian industry that will benefit from the F-35 program.
"With the commitment and support of Lockheed Martin and Pratt and Whitney, a steady F-35 production ramp up, and a continuing favourable Australian dollar, I expect Australian industry do very well on the F-35 program over many years. Some 30 Australian companies have been directly involved in the F-35 program to date, and more than $412 million in production orders have been won with only about 3 per cent of aircraft production completed to date," he said.
After the ceremony, both AU-1 and AU-2, will be transported to Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, where they will be inducted into the 61st Fighter Squadron where US and Australian F-35 pilots will train side-by-side.
Ferry flights of these aircrafts to Australia will start from 2018 onwards.
The ceremony held was described as a Hollywood-style event complete with background didgeridoo music as the grey AU-1 aircraft first come out to the large aircraft hangar at the vast Lockheed Martin plant in Fort Worth, AFP reports.
Meanwhile, staff of ABC was able to go inside the Lockheed Martin plant and was able to interview F-35A test pilot Bill Gigliotti from the US Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor Program.
F-35 is the best airplane he has ever flown, Gigliotti said.
Gigliotti continue to describe the aircraft as easy to fly. He said he still gets excited every time he has to fly the plane.
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