The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has received four new F-35A Lightning II fighter aircraft to boost the nation’s combat capability.

The aircraft arrived at RAAF Base Williamtown in New South Wales, Australia, and was assigned to the RAAF No 77 Squadron, controlled by Air Combat Group’s No 81 Wing.

The new additions increase the RAAF’s existing fleet to 54.

The service had planned to procure a total of 72 F-35s.

RAAF No 77 Squadron commanding officer wing commander Tim Ireland said: “These new jets represent a 10% increase in training and combat capacity for our growing F-35A fighting wing.”

The F-35As started their journey from the US Air Force’s Luke Air Force Base (AFB) in Arizona.

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On their way to Australia, the aircraft made trans-Pacific stops at Hickam AFB in Hawaii and Andersen AFB in Guam, US.

During this journey, the aircraft was supported by the Air Mobility Group’s assets, including a C-17A Globemaster from No 36 Squadron and a KC-30A multi-role tanker transport aircraft from the No 33 Squadron.

Furthermore, the four jets were also ferried across the Pacific Ocean, under the exercise Lightning Ferry 22-3.

This participation was a part of the F-35A aircraft’s third delivery task of the current year.

Ireland added: “All ferries are complex events requiring synchronisation and flexibility from across Air Combat Group, Air Mobility Group, Air Combat Systems programme office, Aerospace Combat Systems branch and the Air Operations Centre.

“These four aircraft represent a quarter of a fighter squadron in capability.

“Australia now has three-quarters of its F-35As at home.”