Lockheed Martin has rolled out the first two F-35 Lightning II jets under the $412 million manufacturing order from the Royal Australian Air Force, ahead of planned fuel system checks and ground and flight tests.
The company said Thursday the AU-1 and AU-2 will be delivered to RAAF in late 2014 but will be used for Australia’s pilot training at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona.
“We join Australia, as one of our original partners, to celebrate this roll out and the numerous Australian contributions to the Joint Strike Fighter program,” Frank Kendall, U.S. undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, said at the aircraft’s presentation.
“For both our nations, this program represents an exponential leap in capability on the cutting edge of technology — and an integral component of our ongoing joint commitment to stability and peace in the Asia-Pacific.”
Lockheed said it expects as much as $6 billion in manufacturing orders over the course of the program.
Marillyn Hewson, the company’s chairman, president and chief executive, also noted the program coincides with Australia’s hundredth year of military aviation.