Lockheed Martin and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) celebrated the beginnings of the first F-35 Lightning II for Australia this week. The aircraft, designated as AU-1, officially began the mate process, where major components of the aircraft are joined together to form the aircraft’s structure. AU-1 will then make its way down the assembly line and roll out of the factory for delivery to the RAAF in the summer of 2014.
“Today marks a new beginning for tactical aviation for Australia,” said Jeff Babione, Lockheed Martin vice president and deputy program manager for F-35. “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.”
The global supply chain for the F-35 currently has 14 Australian companies under contract and building parts for the F-35. Australian industry is expected to gain up to $6.3 billion USD in industry opportunities over the life of the F-35 program. Every F-35 built will have some Australian parts and components.
The occasion also marked a longstanding history between Lockheed Martin and Australia’s Defence Forces, beginning with the Lockheed Vega, F-111 and continuing with the F-35. Australia’s first two F-35s, now in production, will be delivered to the RAAF next year.
The F-35 Lightning II 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.
Source: Lockheed Martin