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Friday, May 3, 2013

Australia Reaffirms F-35 Commitment, Adds New Growlers

By Woodrow Bellamy III

Australia reaffirmed its commitment to purchase 100 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, with manufacturer Lockheed Martin setting 2020 as its date for Initial Operational Capability. 
(F-35. Photo, courtesy of Lockheed Martin.)
The first two Australian F-35s, which are in production, will be delivered next year. Stephen Smith, Australian Minister for Defense, said he expects to see no further delays on the Joint Strike Fighter Project. 
"There’s no change to our Joint Strike Fighter timetable as published in last year’s budget, which reflects and replicates the timetable for the United States’ Joint Strike Fighter project. And we expect to see, on the basis of no further delays in that project, the first of our three squadrons arrive in 2020, with two planes being handed over to us for training purposes in the United States in 2014-2015," said Smith. 
(EA-18G Growler. Photo, courtesy of Boeing.)
The government is looking to replace its fleet of aging Classic Hornets and Super Hornets, and also announced a purchase of 12 new EA-18G Growlers. The purchase will make Australia the only country other than the United States to feature the Growler, adding to its existing fleet consisting of 24 Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet fighters. 

There are 10 countries, including the U.K. and Turkey, committed to purchasing the F-35.  In April the Department of Defense (DOD) grounded its fleet of F-35s after discovering a crack on a turbine in one of its engines.  

Related: Aviation Today's Checklist

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