After years of delays and cost blow-outs, the controversial Joint Strike Fighter has arrived on Australian soil for the first time.
Just after 5:00pm on Monday, the Royal Australian Air Force landed two F-35s at Amberley Air Force Base outside Brisbane, after flying the fifth generation fighters from their current home in the United States.
The two jets have been based at Luke Air Force Base, where four Royal Australian Air Force pilots are training to fly the cutting-edge aircraft.
Their debut in Australia comes 15 years after the Federal Government first announced that Australia would participate in the “system development and demonstration phase” of the US-led Lockheed Martin Joint Strike Fighter program.
Later this week the F-35s will go on public display at the Avalon Air Show in Victoria, where they are expected to be met by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Defence Minister Marise Payne.
Earlier this month the Defence Minister told the ABC the impending visit of the combat planes could send an important message to critics.
“I think it’s an important undertaking and I think Avalon is a perfect time to do it,” Senator Payne said.
“I know that the Air Force is particularly pleased to have the opportunity and I look forward to some chances for people who have been following this story for some time to actually see it over our own continent.”
The Federal Government is preparing to spend $17 billion on 72 F-35 aircraft, with the first expected to be delivered to Australia in 2018 and enter service in 2020.