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Tuesday, 15 June 2010
Page: 3407

Senator Bob Brown asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 8 April 2010:

(a)   What is the proposed purchase price per plane and any other costs, including initial investment in the project, of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter; and (b) what are the scheduled delivery dates for the planes.

Senator Faulkner (Minister for Defence) —The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:

(a)   Acquisition of Australia’s first 14 Joint Strike Fighters (JSF), with infrastructure and support required for initial training and testing, will cost an estimated A$3.2 billion. In regard to price per plane, I refer you to Dr Gumley’s (Chief Executive Officer, Defence Materiel Organisation) report to the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade. On 30 March 2010, Dr Gumley reported that our expected average fly-away price for the expected Australian JSF fleet of 100 aircraft was still approximately A$75 million in 2008 dollars per aircraft, based on an exchange rate of US$0.92, including risk funding for known and unknown cost risks. To this figure, Defence has provided for additional contingency funding for broader Australian project costs. In regard to other costs, operational costs for a total fleet of about 100 aircraft would be in the order of A$20 billion over a 30 year life based on the currently expected rate of effort and assuming the economies of scale of an eventual all-JSF fleet.

(b)   On current plans, Australia’s first two JSF will be delivered in 2014 to commence initial training and to take part in operational testing in the US. The next eight aircraft will also be based in the US for a number of years for pilot and maintainer training. The next four aircraft are planned to be delivered in Australia in 2017 to conduct Australia-specific operational testing. On current plans, the first squadron will be ready for deployed operations by the end of 2018. The first three operational squadrons, comprising a total of no fewer than 72 JSF will be available in 2021. A decision on the final batch of JSF, to replace the Super Hornets, is not expected before 2015.