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The Government of Australia has announced that the F-35A Lightning II fleet has achieved Initial Operational Capability (IOC).

The IOC will enable the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to deploy the fifth-generation aircraft fleet for various operations.

The F-35A Lightning II aircraft is an advanced multi-role, supersonic and stealth fighter, the induction of which will help Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in meeting its requirements to combat current and emerging threats.

Australian Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said: “The fifth-generation F-35A, along with the F/A-18F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler, is key to our air combat capability and critical to achieving the objectives set out in the 2020 Defence Strategic Update to Shape, Deter and Respond.

“For the last two years, Defence has rigorously tested the F-35A fleet to assess aircraft and system performance, and declare this important milestone.

“I would like to thank everyone that has worked so hard to get us to this point; to have accomplished all the required testing and materiel delivery is remarkable.

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“The Australian Defence Force now has an F-35A squadron ready to conduct technologically advanced strike and air combat roles, and another squadron dedicated to providing world-class training here in Australia.”

Australia will have three F-35A aircraft squadrons with 72 units at the RAAF Base Williamtown and RAAF Base Tindal. It will also have a training squadron at RAAF Base Williamtown.

Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said: “Australia will continue to work with the United States F-35 Joint Program Office and our industry partners as more aircraft are delivered through to 2023, and a mature capability is achieved.”