The Australian government declared initial operational capability (IOC) for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) fleet of F-35A LIGHTNING II aircraft on 28 December, making Australia the seventh nation to declare IOC for the type.
"This IOC ushers in a new era of Australian air power that gives the RAAF transformational and game-changing capabilities," commented Joe North, Lockheed Martin Australia chief executive. "As the original equipment manufacturer and lead industry sustainment partner for Australia's F-35A fleet, Lockheed Martin congratulates the RAAF on achieving this milestone, and we stand ready to support the fleet with our industry partners."
Bill Brotherton, F-35 Acting VP/General Manager, highlighted the joint government/industry team that contributed to this milestone. "This team's focus on delivering the most effective, survivable and connected fighter in the world ensures the sovereign protection of Australia and strengthens the future of the F-35 coalition."
The F-35 continues to be a catalyst for transformation of the Australian Defence Force, using its sensors and low observable technology to operate with impunity in contested airspace and fuse a picture of the battlespace for other air, land and sea assets. The programme is also a catalyst for evolving Australia's defence industry capability. With every F-35 manufactured containing Australian-made parts, more than 50 Australian companies have benefited from A$2.7 billion (€1.7 billion) in contracts for development, production and sustainment of the aircraft. The F-35 programme creates more than 2,400 high-tech manufacturing jobs for Australian industry.