AIR 6000 Phase 2A/B
Prime Contractor: Lockheed Martin is contracted to the US Government for the development and production of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). Australia will procure the aircraft through a government to government co-operative agreement.
2010/2011 spend: $43 million
On 25 November 2009, the Australian Government announced Second Pass approval of Stage 1 of Phase 2A/B of the New Air Combat Capability (NACC) project, comprising acquisition of Australia’s first 14 Conventional Take-Off and Landing F-35 JSF aircraft and the infrastructure and support required for initial training and testing, with delivery commencing in 2014. These 14 aircraft are the first tranche of Phase 2A/B. A Government decision on the next stage of Phase 2A/B is expected to be made in 2012.
On current plans, Australia’s first 10 JSF will remain in the US for a number of years for initial conversion training of Australian pilots and maintainers and also participation in operational test activities. The next four JSF are planned to arrive in Australia in 2017 to commence Australian-specific operational test activities, primarily to ensure effective integration with other ADF air and ground systems.
This staged acquisition approach allows time for refinement of costs and more detailed definition of support requirements prior to the Government’s decision on the bulk of Australia’s remaining aircraft in 2012 when cost confidence will be higher.
Acquisition of an additional operational squadron (Phase 2C) will be considered at a later date in conjunction with a decision on the withdrawal of the Super Hornet. A decision is not expected before 2015.
On 1 February 2010, the US Secretary of Defense announced a major restructuring of the JSF Program to address the Program’s failure to meet performance goals in 2009 and ongoing cost and schedule issues. The NACC project has considerable cost and schedule buffers against the core JSF Program to accommodate the JSF Program restructuring action.