The Australian Government has received the next two Lockheed Martin-built F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft from the US.

With the delivery of the aircraft, designated as A35-011 and A35-012, the total number of aircraft in Australia stands at four, Australia Defence Minister Christopher Pyne noted.

Pyne said: “After completing various validation and verification activities in the United States, these aircraft have now arrived at RAAF Base Williamtown and will be assigned to Number 3 Squadron.”

The first two F-35A fifth-generation fighter jets arrived at RAAF Base Williamtown in December.

Australia ordered a total of 72 F-35As to replace the ageing F/A-18A/B Classic Hornets that joined service with the RAAF in 1985. The government plans to retire the Hornet by the end of 2023.

The country is a partner in the F-35 JSF programme and is expected to receive eight aircraft this year.

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“Equipped with Pratt & Whitney F135-PW-100 engine, the multi-role fighter has a range of 2,200km and can accommodate a weapon payload of 8,160kg.”

Australia Defence Industry Minister Linda Reynolds said: “More than 50 Australian companies have directly shared in over $1.3bn in global F-35A production contracts to date, employing more than 2,400 Australians.

“This also includes small and unique Australian businesses who indirectly benefit through the supply chain network.”

Reynolds added that Australian industry involvement in the F-35A programme is expected to exceed A$2bn ($1.42bn) by 2023. The minister went on to claim that the programme will create 5,000 jobs in the country during this period.

Equipped with Pratt & Whitney F135-PW-100 engine, the multi-role fighter has a range of 2,200km and can accommodate a weapon payload of 8,160kg.

The F-35A is anticipated to achieve initial operational capability by the end of next year.

In order to meet the fifth-generation requirements, the F-35 programme also includes the delivery of facilities, weapons and new support systems.