The first Royal Australian Air Force F-35A Lightning II jet arrived at Luke Air Force BaseLUKE AIR FORCE BASE, AZ, Dec. 18, 2014 – The first Australian F-35A Lightning II jet arrived at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. today, where it will be used for pilot training beginning in 2015.  The arrival brings the number of F-35s assigned to the 56th Fighter Wing to 18.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Todd “Torch” LaFortune piloted the aircraft, known as AU-2, on its 90-minute ferry flight from the Lockheed Martin’s F-35 production facility in Fort Worth, Texas.

“Today, we take another tremendous step forward in our transition to the F-35 here at Luke,” said Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus, 56th Fighter Wing commander. “Australia is the first of 10 nations that will not only become part of the Luke community, but will share in calling the West Valley a home away from home.”

The arrival of AU-2 marks the latest milestone in delivering the F-35 to the Royal Australian Air Force. AU-1, Australia’s second F-35A, is scheduled to arrive at Luke Air Force Base in the next few days. The F-35 provides Australia a transformational 5th generation fighter capability. The program also provides significant benefits to the Australian aerospace industry with more than $432 million (USD) under contract with suppliers.

The F-35 Lightning II is the world’s most advanced military aircraft and for over a decade, the U.S. and our allies have invested in developing this fifth-generation, international, multirole fighter aircraft that will serve as a cornerstone of global security in the 21st century.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 113,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Corporation’s net sales for 2013 were $45.4 billion.