F-35A Lightning II

F-35The F-35A provides Australia with a fifth generation aircraft capability to enable air superiority into the future.

Australia has committed to 72 F-35A aircraft – comprised of three operational squadrons - two at RAAF Base Williamtown and one at RAAF Base Tindal. In addition, a training squadron will be based at RAAF Base Williamtown.

The first F-35 aircraft will arrive in Australia in 2018 and the first squadron, Number 3 Squadron, will be operational in 2021.  All 72 aircraft are expected to be fully operational by 2023.

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.

In the future, a fourth operational squadron will be considered for RAAF Base Amberley, for a total of about 100 F-35A's.

The F-35A (commonly known as the Joint Strike Fighter) is the most suitable aircraft for Australia’s future air combat and strike needs, to replace the aging F/A-18A/B Hornets.

Fifth generation aircraft provide a networked force-multiplier effect in terms of situational awareness and combat effectiveness. The F-35A’s combination of stealth, advanced sensors, networking and data fusion capabilities, when integrated with other defence systems, will enable the RAAF to maintain an air combat edge.

Defence is currently undertaking an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process for the flying operations of the F-35A. A website has been created www.f35evolution.com.au where you can learn more about the EIS process, subscribe to receive updates, and provide feedback.

The F-35A is being purchased by Defence Materiel Organisation under project AIR 6000


Manufacturer Lockheed Martin
Role Fifth generation multi role fighter
Crew Pilot
Engines Pratt & Whitney F135-PW-100
Airframe Length: 15.7 m, height: 4.4 m
Wingspan 10.7 m
Weight 13,290 kg (empty)
Range 2,200 km
Ceiling 50,000 feet
Max Speed 1,960 km/h (Mach 1.6)
  • Stealth
  • Advanced sensors
  • Networking and data fusion capabilities
  • AIM-120C Air-to-Air Missiles
  • GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) Guided Bombs
  • 25 mm GAU-22/A cannon