Williamtown the winner over Amberley for F-35s

TRUMPED: The Amberley RAAF Base has missed out on housing the new JF-35 Lightning Joint Strike Fighter jets.
TRUMPED: The Amberley RAAF Base has missed out on housing the new JF-35 Lightning Joint Strike Fighter jets. LAC Aaron Curran

THE most advanced planes in Australian military history will not be coming to Australia's premier airbase.

The Federal Government yesterday announced they would be buying 58 more F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters.

Unlike the F-111s and Super Hornets, however, the planes will not be based out of Amberley, the largest airbase in the country.

In a statement from the office of defence minister David Johnston said the F-35 Lightning IIs would combine with the Super Hornet and Growler, electronic warfare planes also based out of Amberley, fleets to "ensure Australia maintains a regional air combat edge."

The first F-35 aircraft will arrive in Australia in 2018 and enter service with the Royal Australian Air Force in 2020 based out of RAAF base Williamtown north of Newcastle.

Blair MP Shayne Neumann said it was a "lost opportunity" for the jets to be set up at Amberley.

"I would like to see them based at Australia's super base and that's Amberley," he said.

"If they are to replace the Super Hornets, which were always a stop gap between the F-111s and the Joint Strike Fighters, then they should be at Amberley which is the premier base in the country."

The Federal Government said they would consider acquiring an additional squadron of F-35 aircraft to replace the Super Hornets in the future.

Mr Neumann said the decision made him question the Federal Government's commitment to Amberley.

When delivered the Joint Strike Fighter is set to be the most advanced fighter ever built, however, there have been issues with delays and cost overruns.



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