Australia today declared Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for its F-35A jets, making Australia the seventh country to declare IOC for its F-35 fleet.
“Australia’s F-35A Lightning II fleet has achieved Initial Operational Capability and can now be deployed on operations. Thank you to everyone who has worked so hard to get us to this point,” said Linda Reynolds, Minister for Defense.
Australia has committed to 72 F-35A aircraft for three operational squadrons at RAAF Base Williamtown and RAAF Base Tindal, and a training squadron at RAAF Base Williamtown. The F-35A is being purchased by the Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group under project AIR 6000 Phase 2A/2B - New Air Combat Capability.
The first F-35A aircraft was accepted into Australian service in 2018, with the first arriving in country in December that year. The first F-35A squadron, No. 3 Squadron, will be operational in 2021. All 72 aircraft are expected to be fully operational by 2023.