Statement from Chief of Air Force – Flying Hours for the F-35A Lightning ll
15 February 2022
I reject criticisms made in The Australian article ‘Defence revises down planned availability of the F-35A jet fleet’. The criticisms contained are completely unfounded.
The Royal Australian Air Force has revised the expected flying hours based on our maturing understanding of the F-35A capability requirements and our expected build-up of the capability.
Forward estimate flying hours are based on training and capability requirements, not availability.
To use the basic singular metric of flying hours, to suggest that the F-35A is not satisfying its operational and training requirements, is misleading and simply false.
I can confirm the JSF program has met all of its tasking commitments, such as exercises, verification and validation activities and training requirements.
In total, Australia has flown more than 15,000 hours in the aircraft.
The project is delivering to the 2014 Government approved budget and schedule and has already achieved the key initial operational capability milestone of one operational F-35A squadron and training unit by December 2020. In 2021, the program stood up a second operational squadron and a third is occurring in 2022.