The Royal Australian Air Force's (RAAF) first Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), or most popularly dubbed as Australia's first F-35, is already at its major assembly stage at the Lockheed Martin facility in Forth Worth, Texas.
The chief executive officer of the Defence Material Organisation (DMO), Warren King, made the official announcement on Friday, Oct 11.
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.
AU-1 and the second Australian F-35 aircraft, AU-2, will be delivered in the course of 2014 in the United States for testing and training purposes.
Meanwhile, in Forth Worth Texas, Jeff Babione, Lockheed Martin vice president and deputy programme manager for F-35, expressed his positivity about Lockheed Martin and Australia partnership.
"Today marks a new beginning for tactical aviation for Australia. Lockheed Martin is proud of our long and storied relationship with Australian aviation, and now, the F-35 will ensure that the relationship with the RAAF and Australian Industry remains strong for decades to come," Mr Babione said during a press conference.
Lockheed Martin and the Australia's Defence Forces had started its partnership with the Lockheed Vega, F-111 - a partnership replicated with the F-35.
About the F-35 Lightning II:
- It is a 5th-generation fighter, combining advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, advanced mission systems, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and cutting-edge sustainment.
- Three distinct variants of the F-35 will replace the A-10 and F-16 for the U.S. Air Force, the F/A-18 for the U.S. Navy, the F/A-18 and AV-8B Harrier for the U.S. Marine Corps, and a variety of fighters for at least 10 other countries.
To get an idea of how Australia's first F-35 will look like, here are photos of F-35 done for other countries: