Australia will purchase 58 additional F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters produced by Lockheed Martin Corp., officials there announced Wednesday. The government expects the additional 58 U.S. jets, produced by Lockheed’s Fort Worth-based aeronautics division, will cost about $11.5 billion in U.S. dollars. The first F-35 aircraft will arrive in Australia in 2018 and enter service with the Royal Australian Air Force in 2020.
The F-35 will replace the F/A-18A/B Classic Hornet aircraft, which has been used for over three decades in Australia. They will be withdrawn from service by 2022, according to the Australian government. Australia has been working with the U.S. as a partner in the Joint Strike Fighter program since 2002. According to the news release from the Australian government, they will also consider the option of acquiring an additional squadron of F-35 aircraft to replace the Super Hornets in the future.