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[Minister for Defence visit to Lockheed Martin in Texas to view progress on the US-led Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Program]



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Minister for Defence Media Mail List -----------------------------------------------------------------------

Friday, 11 July 2008 082/2008

The Minister for Defence, the Hon. Joel Fitzgibbon MP, today visited Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas, to view progress on the US-led Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Program.

In 2002 Australia joined the US and seven other partner nations to develop the fifth-generation, stealthy, multi-role JSF with the expectation that it would replace Australia’s aging fleet of F-111 and F/A-18 A/B Hornet aircraft.

Lockheed Martin is the JSF prime contractor. The Minister toured the JSF production line and discussed JSF’s progress with senior Lockheed officials.

The Minister reiterated that Australia is looking for an aircraft that can meet the full range of future threats. It must also be affordable to acquire, affordable to sustain and affordable to upgrade throughout its life.

The Minister acknowledged the good technical progress on the JSF Program but pointed out that typical of such complex projects, many challenges remain.

While the Government has yet to make a decision on the aircraft for its new air combat capability, Australia and the other partner countries continue to work very effectively together on the JSF Program.

Following the visit to Fort Worth, the Minister will meet with US Government officials in Washington DC to ensure that if Australia confirms its intention to acquire the JSF, Australia will get access to all the technology and data required to operate and support the aircraft to meet Australia’s sovereign defence requirements.

The final decision on the aircraft for Australia’s new air combat capability will be considered in the context of the new Australian Defence White Paper which is currently being developed.

“The Government’s investment in Australia’s next generation of air combat capability may be up to $16 billion, the largest single defence capability outlay in the nation’s history. The Government is determined to ensure that no final commitment is made until we know exactly what our future needs are, and we have greater certainty on both costs and delivery schedule. That is the message I took to Lockheed Martin in Texas today,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

Media contacts: Christian Taubenschlag (Joel Fitzgibbon): 02 6277 7800 or 0438 595 567 Defence Media Liaison: 02 6265 3343 or 0408 498 664

www.defence.gov.au