Australia's 1st F-35A Takes to the Skies
Australia’s first F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, known as AU-1, has made its inaugural flight, marking another significant milestone for the Australian F-35 program, Minister for Defence Senator David Johnston announced today.
The milestone follows the official rollout of the Australia’s first two F-35 Lightning II aircraft on 24 July 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas.
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Senator Johnston said the first flight event was an important step towards acceptance of the aircraft.
“Australia’s first aircraft AU-1 and AU-2 will undergo further flight testing in the lead up to acceptance and ferry to Luke Air Force Base in 2015,” Senator Johnston said.
“The fifth generation JSF is the most advanced fighter in production anywhere in the world and will replace our fleet of Classic Hornets, which by 2020 will be over 35 years old.”
The first F-35 aircraft will enter service in Australia in 2018 with the first operational squadron established by 2020.
Senator Johnston said that as a result of the Howard Government’s decision to join during the development phase, Australian defence industry has been awarded over $355 million in work and stands to win well in excess of $1.5 billion in JSF-related production and support work over the life of the program.
“In fact, Australian participation in the JSF program has resulted in an Australian part in almost every JSF produced,” Senator Johnston said.
Source : Ministry of Defence Australia - view original press release