Australia and the UK have opened the F-35 Reprogramming Laboratory at Eglin Air Force Base (AFB) in Florida, US.

The opening of the Reprogramming Laboratory is the result of a joint partnership between Australia and the UK. It is the latest development in advancing the Australian F-35A Lightning II capability.

Australian Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said: “The Reprogramming Laboratory produces Mission Data Files (MDFs for Australian and UK F-35s) which compiles information about the operating environment and assets in an area, before being loaded onto the aircraft pre-flight using a portable hard drive.

“Combined with the aircraft’s advanced sensor suite, this provides the pilot with a clearer battlespace picture.”

The lab will develop, verify and issue MDFs for deployed Australian and UK F-35 aircraft.

The project is supported by both countries with a 50/50 financing arrangement in place.

The Australian F-35A project is on schedule to achieve initial operating capability this December, whereas the final operating capability is expected in 2023.

Australia has plans to equip the airforce with 72 F-35A aircraft by 2023.

Reynolds added: “The F-35A is a key part of the government’s $200bn investment in defence capability.

“Today’s opening is a key milestone in the delivery of this programme to the Australian Defence Force.”

In December last year, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) took delivery of seven F-35A fighter aircraft at Base Williamtown from the US.

In September the same year, the Australian Government awarded contracts to local small businesses for the delivery of systems and services for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter programme.