UNDERSIDE: Royal Australian Air Force aircraft maintainer Corporal Cory Cochrane inspects the bomb bay of an Australian F-35A on the flight line in Arizona.
UNDERSIDE: Royal Australian Air Force aircraft maintainer Corporal Cory Cochrane inspects the bomb bay of an Australian F-35A on the flight line in Arizona. SGT Christopher Dickson

Australia's first F-35A stealth jets head for RAAF Amberley

THE first of Australia's 72 F-35 stealth jets have started their long journey to RAAF Base Amberley.

The two F35s departed Luke Air Force Base at Arizona, United States, two days ago.

They have started their slow trip to Australia, stopping in Hawaii and Guam on the journey.

Australia's first stealth fighters will land in Brisbane on December 10 before moving on to the F-35 home base at Williamtown.

The two jets will fly into RAAF Base Amberley without the fanfare and dignitaries that will greet them when they arrive in Newcastle.

At a cost of $125 million each, the F35s are considered to be the most lethal warplane ever built.

They are able to fly virtually undetected by radar with the capability to travel at 1.5 times the speed of sound.

A Defence spokeswoman said the fighters would make only a brief stop in Ipswich.

"Two Royal Australian Air Force F-35A Joint Strike Fighters will transit RAAF Base Amberley before arriving at their homebase at No. 3 Squadron at RAAF Base Williamtown on December 10," she said.

"Aircraft movements will not be released due to security reasons.

"There will be no opportunities to view the aircraft during their transit through RAAF Base Amberley."

The Royal Australian Air Force has partnered with Lockheed Martin and the United States Air Force, as they prepare to introduce Australia's first fifth-generation air combat capability.

"The F-35A Joint Strike Fighter is the most advanced, affordable, fifth-generation multi-role stealth fighter, able to deal with Australia's emerging threats well into the future," a Defence brief noted.

"The F-35A is truly next-generation due to its stealth capability, advanced sensors, data fusion and its ability to share information with other aircraft, Army units and Navy ships."

The Australian Government approved the purchase of F-35A aircraft to replace F/A-18A/B Hornets.

Australia has committed to 72 aircraft for three operational squadrons at RAAF Base Williamtown and RAAF Base Tindal, and a training squadron at RAAF Base Williamtown.

The first squadron, Number 3 Squadron, will be operational in 2021.

All 72 aircraft are expected to be fully operational by 2023.

In the future, a fourth operational squadron will be considered for RAAF Base Amberley, for a total of 100 F-35A aircraft.

Minister for Defence Christopher Pyne will officially welcome Australia's first two F-35A Joint Strike Fighter aircraft at RAAF Base Williamtown on December 10.