The first Lockheed Martin F-35As to be permanently based in Australia have arrived at the Royal Australian Air Force's Williamtown base in New South Wales.

Bearing the registrations A35-009 and A35-010, the pair reached their new home after a ferry flight across the Pacific from Luke AFB in Arizona, says defence minister Christopher Pyne.

The two F-35As approach RAAF Williamtown


Commonweatlh of Australia

“This is the most advanced, multi-role stealth fighter in the world,” says Pyne. “It will deliver next generation capability benefits and provide a major boost to our intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities. The Joint Strike Fighter can get closer to threats undetected; find, engage and jam electronic signals from targets; and share information with other platforms.”

The pair are part of an overall acquisition of 72 F-35As for Australia, valued at A$17 billion ($12 billion), and have been assigned to the air force's 3 Sqn. Ultimately, F-35As will operate from the service's bases at Williamtown and Tindal, Northern Territory.

The F-35A will replace Canberra's fleet of F/A-18A/Bs

RAAF F-35As and F-18s

Commonwealth of Australia

The RAAF aims to achieve initial operating capability with the type in December 2020. This milestone will include the availability of weapons such as the Raytheon AIM-120 AMRAAM and AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, Boeing JDAMs and small diameter bombs, and the fighter's internal 25mm cannon.

Flight Fleets Analyzer shows that Australia has taken delivery of 10 F-35As. Most of these are now serving with an international training school at Luke AFB.

This is not the first time the F-35A has been in Australia. The type also visited Airshow Australia at Avalon, Queensland in early 2017.