F-35A Lightning II

The F-35A Lightning II will provide for Australia's future air combat and strike needs.

Australia has committed to 72 F-35A aircraft for three operational squadrons at RAAF Base Williamtown and RAAF Base Tindal, and a training squadron at RAAF Base Williamtown.

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

The first F-35A aircraft is scheduled to be accepted into Australian service 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 F-35A will provide Australia with a fifth generation aircraft at the forefront of air combat technology, and enhance our situational awareness and combat effectiveness.

The F-35A is being purchased by the Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group under project AIR 6000.

About the Aircraft

The F-35A is characterised by:

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

It is the most suitable aircraft to replace the ageing F/A-18A/B Hornets.

Capable of supersonic flight whilst retaining stealth, the F-35A has extraordinary acceleration, agility and 9G manoeuvrability.

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


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), 29,900 kg (max)
Range 2,200 km
Ceiling 50,000 feet
Max Speed 1,960 km/h (Mach 1.6)
  • Low Observation Stealth
  • Advanced sensors
  • Networking and Data Fusion Capabilities
  • Helmet Mounted Sight
  • AIM-120C Air-to-Air Missile
  • AIM-9X "Sidewinder" Short Range Air-toAir Missile
  • GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) Guided Bombs
  • Laser-Guided Bombs
  • Internal 25 mm GAU-22/A Cannon