Australia’s Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld, has disputed claims made in a newspaper article that the country’s F-35 flying hours have been reduced because of the availability of the aircraft. The Australian newspaper reported this week that the fifth-generation fighter would see its time in the sky downgraded by 25 percent this financial year, before seeing more reductions in the following three years.

“I reject criticisms made in The Australian article ‘Defence revises down planned availability of the F-35A jet fleet’. The criticisms contained are completely unfounded,” Hupfield said. “The Royal Australian Air Force has revised the expected flying hours based on our maturing understanding of the F-35A capability requirements and our expected build-up of the capability. Forward estimate flying hours are based on training and capability requirements, not availability. To use the basic singular metric of flying hours, to suggest that the F-35A is not satisfying its operational and training requirements, is misleading and simply false.

“I can confirm the JSF program has met all of its tasking commitments, such as exercises, verification and validation activities and training requirements,” he added. “In total, Australia has flown more than 15,000 hours in the aircraft. The project is delivering to the 2014 Government approved budget and schedule and has already achieved the key initial operational capability milestone of one operational F-35A squadron and training unit by December 2020. In 2021, the program stood up a second operational squadron and a third is occurring in 2022.”

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  1. My country (Turkiye) is very lucky that we have been excluded from the F35 provision program by US government. Very soon hopefully we will produce our national jet fighter thanks to this exclusion. Historically we established our defense industry thanks to these embargoes of our so called Allies.


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