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On Sunday the 21st of February in Darwin, Australia, United States Air Force Lieutenant General (Lt.Gen) Christopher Bogdan briefed the Australian and International media on the progress of the F-35 lightning II program and also was in the country to brief the Royal Australian Air Force on the progress of the 72 F-35A aircraft they plan on operating out of RAAF Bases Williamtown and Tindal.
The Lt.Gen was in Australia on official business to do a few things, as he stated, when he was explaining why he was in Australia, “I am here for three reasons, those being to meet and provide updates to the Australian Department of Defence and Royal Australian Air Force officials on my assessment, both good and bad, on the F-35 program. Also, visit RAAF Base Tindal and provide information as required and also see how the base is progressing (Tindal is planned to house 16 out of the 72 F-35A’s the Australian Government have ordered receiving them in 2022). And, I am also here to appear at the Senate Hearing discussions where Question and Answers will be delivered to members of the Australian Government, based on the F-35 acquisition for the RAAF.”
He states there are many misconceptions about the JSF project ranging from various ideas. Several factors have driven these misconceptions as the LtGen mentions:
“Well, in the beginning it had a tragic past. All new projects have early hurdles to jump that is just a natural process. It’s also is a big project, the scope and scale of which is something that has never been seen before in the defence aviation industry. There are 14 customers integrated into the program including 3 FMS (Foreign Military Sales) customers. But the program is growing, accelerating and improving.”
“Production delivery from Lockheed Martin was 45 units in 2015, the next 2 years we will see 100 airframes. In four years, there will be 140…that is triple the current production rate. Total builds between the fiscal years of 2016 and 2022, are around 873 units”.