The U.S. and Australia continued their “commitment to stability in the Asia-Pacific region” this week with the rollout of the first two F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force.
Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistic called the rollout a “milestone,” according to a release from the Department of Defense.
The two F-35A aircraft, known as AU-1 and AU-2, are scheduled for delivery to the Australian air force later this year. They will be based at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona and used for Australian and partner-country pilot training beginning next year. The first F-35s to operate in Australia are expected by 2017.
“We join Australia, as one of our original partners, to celebrate this delivery and the numerous Australian contributions to the joint strike fighter program,” Kendall said in a release.
“For both our nations,” he added, “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.”