PUBLISHED: 14:31 GMT, 24 April 2014 | UPDATED: 22:28 GMT, 24 April 2014
The Government has approved the acquisition of an additional 58 F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter aircraft. The fifth generation F-35 is the most advanced fighter in production anywhere in the world and will make a vital contribution to our national security. Together with the Super Hornet and Growler electronic warfare aircraft, the F-35 aircraft will ensure Australia maintains a regional air combat edge. The F-35 will also provide a major boost to the ADF's intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities. The first F-35 aircraft will arrive in Australia in 2018 and enter service with the Royal Australian Air Force in 2020. Australia has been working with the United States as a partner in the Joint Strike Fighter programme since the Coalition joined in 2002. Acquiring F-35 aircraft will reinforce the ADF's ability to operate seamlessly with US forces and Australia's capacity to continue supporting our shared strategic interests under the US alliance. The acquisition of F-35 aircraft will bring significant economic benefits to Australia, including in regional areas and for the local defence industry with more jobs and production for many locally-based skilled and technical manufacturers.
The total capital cost of $12.4 billion for this acquisition includes the cost of associated facilities, weapons and training. Around $1.6 billion in new facilities and infrastructure will be constructed, including at RAAF Base Williamtown in New South Wales and RAAF Base Tindal in the Northern Territory.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott said that the purchase would "ensure our edge as a regional power". He added the deal did not involve any "new spending"
F-35 Joint Strike Fighters to transform Australia's air combat capability