The Australian Department of Defence has confirmed that the industry has been collectively awarded more than $1bn in production to date for the F-35 Lightning II aircraft programme.

Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne said that more than 50 companies across the country directly shared in the aircraft construction contracts.

Pyne said: “The Australian industry continues to prove its global competitiveness by performing better than initial forecasts, with Australian industry involvement expected to exceed $2bn by 2023.”

The F-35 Lightning II aircraft programme has so far indirectly benefited several other companies through supply chain work and is expected to support up to 5,000 jobs in Australia by 2023.

Pyne further added: “Further opportunities are expected for Australian companies to increase production contract values over the next four years as F-35 production rates more than double.

“The Australian industry is manufacturing parts that will be fitted to every F-35 aircraft in production across the globe.

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“Australian success in the Joint Strike Fighter programme isn’t limited to manufacturing parts.

“The Australian industry is manufacturing parts that will be fitted to every F-35 aircraft in production across the globe.”

“The Australian industry has also been chosen as the maintenance hub for the engines, airframes, and 64 of 65 components, which have been assigned by the Joint Project Office.”

In August last year, the first indigenously built vertical tail was fitted to Australia’s third F-35A aircraft, which was under construction at Lockheed Martin facility in Fort Worth, Texas, US.

In December this year, the first two Australian F-35A fighter jets are slated to arrive for permanent basing at RAAF Base Williamtown, New South Wales, Australia.

The country will have a training squadron and three operational squadrons with 72 aircraft by the time of final operating capability, which is expected to take place in December 2023.