Prime Contractor: Lockheed Martin is contracted to the US Government for the development and production of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). Australia will procure the aircraft through a government to government co-operative agreement.
The New Air Combat Capability (NACC) Project aims to introduce a new air combat capability that will meet Australia’s air combat needs out to 2030 and beyond. In the 2009 Defence White Paper, the Government confirmed that it plans to equip the Air Force with around 100 F-35 aircraft.
The F-35 is a fifth-generation, stealthy, multi-role fighter being developed for the US and eight international partner nations, including Australia. Of the three variants being produced, Australia is acquiring the Conventional Take-Off and Landing (CTOL) F-35A variant. When integrated into a networked Australian Defence Force, Australia’s F-35A will fulfil the functions of air dominance and strike capability currently provided by F/A-18A/B Hornets and F/A-18F Super Hornets.
AIR 6000 Phase 1B has focused on the analysis and risk mitigation activities necessary to support Government’s procurement decision on the F-35 and to support Australian defence industry participation in the F-35 Program. The primary financial activity was provision of Australia's shared cost contribution to the US F-35 Program in accordance with our obligations as a Program partner. Apart from ongoing funding to support some outstanding contracts, Phase 1B is complete and the NACC Project is now in the acquisition phase.
On current plans, AIR 6000 Phase 2A/B, the first phase of the acquisition, will consider acquiring up to 72 CTOL F-35A aircraft to establish three operational squadrons, a training squadron and necessary supporting/enabling elements to replace the current F/A-18 A/B Hornet capability.
- In November 2009, the Government approved funding for Phase 2A/B (Stage 1) to acquire 14 CTOL F-35A aircraft, support and enabling elements required to establish the initial pilot and maintainer training capability in the US and to allow conduct of operational test in the US and Australia. The first two F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft will be delivered in the US in 2014. The delivery of the next 12 aircraft, originally scheduled for delivery in the 2015-2017 timeframe, will now be delayed by two years.
- Phase 2A/B (Stage 2) will consider approving funding for the next tranche of (up to) 58 CTOL F-35A aircraft and support and enabling elements to form the first three operational squadrons and a training unit. A Government risk assessment of overall F-35 progress, and any recommendations, to be presented to Government in late 2012, will inform a decision on the way ahead for Stage 2..
A subsequent AIR 6000 Phase 2C is planned to acquire the fourth operational squadron to bring the total number of aircraft to around 100. A decision on Phase 2C – not expected before 2015 – will depend on the decision on the timing of the withdrawal of the F/A-18F Super Hornets.
The NACC project office continues to work closely with Australian industry, Lockheed Martin and its F-35 industry partners and their suppliers, to improve the business case for Australian industry participation on the F-35 Program.
The F-35 is a large and complex program and many challenges remain. Outcomes and information from US reviews of the JSF Program continue to be factored into Defence’s planning to ensure we can deal with risks.
Submission to the Defence Sub-Committee Review of the 2010-2011 Defence Annual Report - Issues Raised by Air Power Australia Regarding JSF
Return of JSF to Flight Operations - Statement from US JPO
- 19 Aug 2011
Return to JSF Ground Operations - Statement from US JPO
- 11 Aug 2011
Temporary JSF flight test suspension - Statement from US JPO
- 4 Aug 2011
Additional JSF Public Environmental Report information
New Air Combat Capability - Industry Support Program information