It’s official – Australia’s own F-35A at Avalon

Minister for Defence Marise Payne and Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne today announced that both of Australia’s F-35A Joint Strike Fighters would make their first appearance in Australia at the Australian International Airshow at Avalon.

Australian Defence Magazine had the same information nearly two weeks ago.

FILE PHOTO CAPTION: A USMC F35B performs a fly past of crowds at RAF Fairdord during the Royal International Air Tattoo (8 July 2016). Crown Copyright 2016. Photo by SAC Tim Laurence.

Minister Payne said it was fitting the aircraft would make its first visit down under in time for the airshow [though further down her colleague says the aircraft will actually interrupt USAF training schedules specifically for the airshow].

“The Joint Strike Fighter will be joined at the Airshow by Australia’s first EA-18G Growler,” Minister Payne said.

“Together, the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter and the EA-18 G Growler represent a potent and technologically advanced air combat and strike capability that is essential to our ability to defend Australia and our national interests.

“Australia is the only country outside the United States operating the EA-18G Growler and its arrival represents a significant leap forward in our capability, introducing a dedicated electronic attack capability for the first time.”

Minister Pyne said this would be one of the most exciting airshows the ADF had organised*, representing a significant occasion for defence industry.

[* Point of order minister – it is CONTACT’s understanding – nay belief – that the Australian International Airshow, which the ADF strongly supports – as do a significant number of other organisations and commercial companies, who pay a small fortune for the privilege – is “…organised by Aerospace Australia Limited (ABN 63 091 147 787). A not-for-profit corporation limited by guarantee and registered as a charity…”]

“The EA-18G Growler and F-35A Lightning II represent the latest in cutting edge aviation technology, and include some of the very best of Australian industry,” he said.

“This is an incredible opportunity for the Australian public to see the future of aviation [sitting on the tarmac].

“The F-35A will bring significant opportunities to Australian industry, with already over $800 million in local design and production work, which is expected to grow significantly as the programme matures and production increases,” Minister Pyne said.

“Australian industry will continue to benefit when the jets are in service after Australia was selected as the JSF sustainment and maintenance hub for Asia and the Pacific.”

The first two F-35A aircraft, AU-001 and AU-002 will arrive at the airshow on Friday 3 March, returning to the United States via RAAF Base Amberley, allowing Australian pilots to continue their training.

One of the ministers said the visit was a significant contribution by the United States Air Force Training Command, and Lockheed Martin to facilitate the deployment from Luke Air Force Base during their training period.

What both ministers failed to mention but Australian Defence Magazine alluded to, is that despite the SIGNIFICANT cost and effort involved in bringing the two F-35As to Australia for a very brief visit, they will, most likely, remain on static display during the course of the Avalon Airshow.

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Brian Hartigan

Managing Editor Contact Publishing Pty Ltd PO Box 3091 Minnamurra NSW 2533 AUSTRALIA

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