Australia’s Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld has released a formal statement in response to media reports claiming that Australia’s new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is not performing to schedule.
FILE PHOTO: Two RAAF F-35As at RAAF Base Williamtown. Photo by Brian Hartigan.
In the statement, Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld said he rejected the criticisms made in The Australian article ‘Defence revises down planned availability of the F-35A jet fleet’.
“The criticisms contained are completely unfounded,” Air Marshal Hupfeld said.
“The Royal Australian Air Force has revised the expected flying hours based on our maturing understanding of the F-35A capability requirements and our expected build-up of the capability.
“Forward estimate flying hours are based on training and capability requirements, not availability.
“To use the basic singular metric of flying hours, to suggest that the F-35A is not satisfying its operational and training requirements, is misleading and simply false.
“I can confirm the JSF program has met all of its tasking commitments, such as exercises, verification and validation activities and training requirements.”
Air Marshal Hupfeld disclosed that Australia had flown more than 15,000 hours in the F-35A thus far.
“The project is delivering to the 2014 government-approved budget and schedule and has already achieved the key initial operational capability milestone of one operational F-35A squadron and training unit by December 2020.
“In 2021, the program stood up a second operational squadron and a third is occurring in 2022.”