F-35A Lightning II

The F-35A Lightning II is the Australian Defence Force’s first fifth-generation air combat capability. It is a highly advanced multi-role, supersonic, stealth fighter which will meet Australia’s requirements to defeat current and emerging threats.

The F-35A is at the forefront of air combat technology.  Advanced sensors and data fusion allow it to gather and share information faster than ever before. Capable of supersonic flight while retaining stealth, the F-35A has extraordinary acceleration, agility and 9G manoeuvrability. The F-35A also provides its pilots with significantly higher levels of lethality and survivability in combat.

The F-35A is characterised by:

  • a low observable design
  • internal weapons and fuel carriage
  • advanced radar
  • electro-optical and infrared sensors
  • advanced voice and data link communications
  • the ability to employ a wide range of air-to-surface and air-to-air weapons.

Australia has committed to 72 F-35A aircraft for three operational squadrons at:

  • RAAF Base Williamtown 
  • RAAF Base Tindal 
  • a training squadron at RAAF Base Williamtown.

On 17 July 2015, the Department of Environment and Energy published the approval decision for the flying operations of the F-35A after considering the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

The first F-35A aircraft was accepted into Australian service in 2018. The first F-35A squadron, No. 3 Squadron, became operational in 2021.


Manufacturer Lockheed Martin
Role Fifth generation, multi role fighter
Crew Pilot
Length 15.7 m
Height 4.4 m
Wing span 10.7 m
Wing area 42.7m2
Weight 13,290 kg (empty), 29,900 kg (max)
Engines Pratt & Whitney F135-PW-100
  • 40,000 lb Maximum power (with afterburner)
  • 25,000 lb Military Power (without afterburner)
Range 2,200 km
Combat radius (internal fuel) 1093 km
Internal Fuel Capacity 8278 kg
Ceiling 50,000 feet
Max Speed 1,960 km/h (Mach 1.6)
Max g-rating 9.0
  • Low Observation Stealth
  • Advanced sensors
  • Networking and Data Fusion Capabilities
  • Helmet Mounted Sight
  • AIM-120 AMRAAM
  • AIM-9X "Sidewinder" Short Range Air-to-Air Missile
  • GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) Guided Bombs
  • Laser-Guided Bombs
  • Internal 25 mm GAU-22/A Cannon
Weapon Payload 8160 kg