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Australia boosts air power with $14.5b purchase of 58 F-35s

Published on Apr 23, 2014 1:11 PM

SYDNEY (AFP) - Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced Wednesday the purchase of 58 more F-35 Joint Strike Fighters costing A$12.4 billion (S$14.5 billion) in a major defence upgrade to maintain Australia's regional edge.

The new aircraft will bring Australia's total JSF force to 72, with the first due to arrive in 2018 and enter service in 2020.

The deal with US aerospace giant Lockheed Martin includes an option to buy a further 18 planes and is additional to the purchase of 14 F-35s Australia already approved in 2009.

"The fifth generation F-35 is the most advanced fighter in production anywhere in the world and will make a vital contribution to our national security," Abbott said.

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