Oz the First

Australia’s first F-35A strike fighter—dubbed AU-1—flew for the first time on Sept. 29. Piloted by Lockheed Martin test pilot Al Norman, the aircraft made a two-hour functional check flight from the company’s Ft. Worth, Texas, plant. The aircraft will be officially delivered to the Australian Air Force later this year, when it will join other F-35As at Luke AFB, Ariz. There it will be part of the combined international F-35A pilot training enterprise, which is expected eventually to field 140 of the fighters. Australia is one of the original nine partners on the JSF project; in exchange for Australia’s investment in F-35 development, Australian industry gets a share of F-35 production work. So far, Australian companies have received $412 million (US dollars) in JSF-related contracts. Beyond the nine partners, Israel, Japan, and South Korea have signed up to buy the F-35 under US foreign military sales. In Australian service, the F-35A will join the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and its EA-18G Growler electronic warfare variant.