Australia to Have World’s First All 5th Generation Air Force; Commits to Defend Rules-based Global Order against China
Australia plans to make its Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) the world's first all fifth-generation air force by 2025, whose capabilities will make it the most sophisticated in Asia even when compared to the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF).
The RAAF has some 260 aircraft, of which 110 are combat aircraft.
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Air Marshal Leo Davies, AO, CSC, Chief of Air Force, said the RAAF will to be the first all fifth-generation air force, integrating the network capabilities of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter with its land and sea components, as well as its allies' and partners' forces.
Air Marshal Davies said the RAAF will "have no legacy aircraft after 2025" under its current defense spending guidance. RAAF will acquire 72 F-35A stealth fighters from the United States over the next few years.
This will make the RAAF the largest operator of the F-35 in Asia. The Japan Air Self-Defense Force will operate 42 F-35As.
Air Marshal Davies said that since Australia is "a committed high-tech ally" of the United States, "we can prosecute our shared integration together" through the F-35.
He said he views the introduction of the Joint Strike Fighter working with F-35s from Australia, the United States Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps "has forced us to think together."
He called this "a whole of force concept" that "we want to explore with you," including design and development.
"We can prosecute our shared interests together."
The challenge for the future is "taking advantage of these assets (such as the F-35) ... and use them in a modern way."
Air Marshal Davies said Australia "should (also) be a bridge for regional security," stressing the freedom of overflight and navigation. Davies noted that Australia like the United States has no territorial claims in the South China Sea.
Australia wants "to claim free access to trade" throughout the Pacific "then Australia is happy."
Australia's goal is to maintain "a rules-based global order."