Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith has warned Parliament that repeated cost increases and delays in the F-35 programme were falling out of line with limits set by the government and military planners (Australia to decide on F-35 fighter purchase in 2012: Govt, Reuters, 17 August 2011).
Smith said that the government would not allow “a gap in the capability of [its] air combat capability”.
Australia, a partner in the F-35 program, has committed to buying 14 of the aircraft and plans ultimately to buy 100. But the first deliveries, originally planned for 2011, have now been pushed back to 2014 and even that date may be in jeopardy.
The delays mean that Australia might decide not to proceed with further purchases of the F-35 and may look to other planes for its multi-role fighter program.