The Government has announced it will spend billions on the acquisition of another 58 F-35 aircraft, bringing the total number purchased to 72.
The Government says it will also consider the option of buying another squadron of the jets to eventually replace the F/A-18 Super Hornets.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott says the JSF is the most advanced fighter in production anywhere in the world and will make a vital contribution to Australia’s national security.
“Together with the Super Hornet and Growler electronic warfare aircraft, the F-35 aircraft will ensure Australia maintains a regional air combat edge,” he said.
“The F-35 will provide a major boost to the ADF’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.
“The acquisition of F-35 aircraft will bring significant economic benefits to Australia, including regional areas and local defence industry.”
The first Joint Strike Fighters will arrive in Australia in 2018 and enter service in 2020.
As part of the announcement, more than $1.6 billion will be spent on new facilities at air bases in Williamtown in New South Wales and Tindal in the Northern Territory.
The F-35 has been billed as the smartest fighter jet on the planet, designed to strike enemies in the air and on the ground without being detected by radar.
But the plane’s development has been beset by delays and cost overruns.
The head of the JSF program, US Air Force Lieutenant General Chris Bogdan, visited Australia earlier this year and declared the reliability and maintainability of the aircraft was not yet “good enough”.
In late March the US House Armed Services Committee was told the planes were not affordable to use at the moment.
The committee heard software problems could delay the fighter’s production, and foreign buyer delays could see countries like Australia paying millions of dollars more per aircraft.