First Two RAAF F-35s Roll Off the Line

The first two F-35 strike fighters for the Royal Australian Air Force officially rolled off the line at Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth, Texas, facility on July 24. The aircraft, dubbed AU-1 and AU-2, will undergo functional fuel system checks and flight tests over the next few months, before they are delivered to RAAF later this year, according to a July 24 company release. Both aircraft will be based at Luke AFB, Ariz., where they will be used for pilot training. “For both our nations, this program represents an exponential leap in capability on the cutting edge of technology, and an integral component of our ongoing joint commitment to stability and peace in the Asia-Pacific,” said Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics. Australia already has contracted $412 million dollar to its F-35 program and is expected to spend up to $6 billion in “expected manufacturing orders over the life of the program, “states the release. “It’s fitting that in the year Australia commemorates 100 years of military aviation, we also mark the arrival of the most advanced fighter ever developed,” said Lockheed Martin President Marillyn Hewson.