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First Australian F-35s Are Rolled Out

U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Frank Kendall touted the F-35’s capabilities and explained the aircraft’s expense and lengthy development as due to “complexity” during the official roll-out ceremony for the first two Australian F-35s July 24. Kendall spoke to an audience of about 300 during the ceremony, held at Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth, Texas facility.

The two F-35As, AU-1 and AU-2, are scheduled for delivery to the Royal Australian Air Force later in 2014, and will operate out of Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., to train Australian and partner nation pilots.

“You’re talking about something that no one has ever done before, which will put us all a decade or more ahead of anybody else out there. And [it will] keep us ahead for some time to come as we continue to upgrade the F-35.”

“Today, we celebrate a milestone in the U.S.-Australia partnership, a partnership built on strength, friendship, and technological innovation,” said Kendall in a DoD news story. “We join Australia, as one of our original partners, to celebrate this roll out and the numerous Australian contributions to the Joint Strike Fighter program.  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.”

USD Kendall

The Honorable Frank Kendall, U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics, speaks at the Australian F-35 roll-out ceremony. Lockheed Martin photo by Angel DelCueto

Other members of the official party included Australian Finance Minister and Senator Matthias Cormann, Chief of the Royal Australian Air Force Air Marshal Geoff Brown, and Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson.

The complexity of the aircraft is necessary to provide it with capabilities, Kendall said, that are unmatched by any other aircraft today and into the future. He went on to describe some of them.

“Millions of lines of code, an incredibly integrated design that brings together stealth, a number of characteristics, very advanced sensors, advanced radars, advanced [infrared] sensors, incredibly capable electronic warfare capability, integration of weapons and integration across the force of multiple aircraft and multiple sensors to work together as a team,” Kendall told the crowd.

“You’re talking about something that no one has ever done before, which will put us all a decade or more ahead of anybody else out there. And [it will] keep us ahead for some time to come as we continue to upgrade the F-35,” he said.

“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 Marillyn Hewson, Lockheed Martin chairman, president and CEO, according to a company press release. “The F-35 Lightning II will lay the foundation for the next century of Australia’s military air power.”