Third RAAF F-35 progresses along assembly line

F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters A35-001 (closest) and A35-002 during the first trans-Pacific flight from Luke Air Force Base, USA to RAAF Base Amberley, Australia.
A35-001 and A35-002. (Defence)

Joe Hockey, Australian Ambassador to the US, has visited Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth as Australia’s third F-35A Lightning II is progressing along the production line.

Hockey was briefed on the Joint Strike Fighter program and signed the bulkhead of the aircraft, A35-003, the Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG) stated.

This aircraft is the first of the next batch of eight for the Royal Australian Air Force that are currently in production to begin the ‘mate’ process, where major components are joined together to form the aircraft structure.

“The aircraft will then make its way down the assembly line and through its check flights in preparation for delivery,” said Air Vice-Marshal Leigh Gordon, Head Joint Strike Fighter at CASG.

“Like its two RAAF F-35A stablemates, A35-003 will be delivered to Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, in early 2018, where it will be used for F-35 pilot and maintainer training until permanently relocating to Australia in 2020.”