Outgoing Defence Minister Christopher Pyne and Minister for Defence Industry Linda Reynolds have announced the approval of Project AIR 6000 Phase 3 to provide new weapons and countermeasures for the RAAF’s F-35A Lightning II and F/A-18F Super Hornets.
The project is a key enabling capability that will ensure the F-35A can successfully achieve IOC in late 2020.
The weapons approved include; the 120kg GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) I, GBU-53 SDB II, additional 240kg GBU-12 Laser Guided Bomb (LGB) rounds, 1,000kg GBU-31v1 and v3 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM), 250kg GBU-38 JDAM, and 25mm PGU-47 Armour Piercing Explosive (APEX) Ammunition for the F-35’s GAU-25 gun.
“Aircraft self-protection countermeasures and weapons are essential elements of Australia’s air combat capability,” Mr Pyne said in an April 6 statement. “This latest investment will ensure weapons and decoys are available as Australia’s air combat fleet transitions to the F-35A and Super Hornet.
“A range of complementary weapons and countermeasures will be acquired to provide comprehensive options for use in densely contested environments.”
Ms Reynolds added, “The Australian Government is investing over $110 million into this phase of the Joint Strike Fighter program, sustaining more jobs in the Australian defence industry. Thales Australia will supply weapon components, and Chemring Australia, will supply countermeasures for the project.”
A Defence spokesman told ADBR that, “When Australia’s F-35A Joint Strike Fighter project reaches initial operating capability in 2020, the weapons suite will include the AIM-120D variant of the advanced medium range air-to-air missile, the AIM-9X sidewinder air-to-air missile, guided bombs, small diameter bombs and the internal gun.
“Of the aforementioned weapons, the F/A-18F Super Hornet can also employ GBU-12, GBU-31v1, GBU31v3 and GBU-38.”