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April 12, 2012
MORE than 60 officials from the nine
nations partnered on the US F-35 Joint
Strike Fighter (JSF) program gathered
in Sydney from March 13 to 15 to dis-
The officials comprised the JSF
Executive Steering Board (JESB) which
meets every six months.
This was the first time Australia had
played host to the JESB.
Defence Materiel Organisation's
Chief Executive Officer Warren King is
co-chair of the board.
The meeting included in-depth dis-
cussions about F-35 development, pro-
duction, engineering and sustainment
"Private meetings were also held
between the US delegation and each of
the individual nation partners to discuss
sovereign issues," Mr King said.
The key message from the US prin-
cipals was that while there is still risk in
the program, it is on track.
Outgoing US Air Force (USAF)
acquisition chief David Van Buren said
that US observations and assessments
over the past year provided confidence
that the basic aircraft designs were
sound and would deliver.
Mr Van Buren was invited to RAAF
Base Williamtown for a familiarisa-
tion visit to Air Combat Group and
Surveillance and Response Group, and
to discuss planning for the F-35's antici-
pated arrival in 2017.
As this article goes to print,
Australia's first F-35A aircraft is set to
start down the Lockheed Martin produc-
tion line, while delivery of Australia's
first two aircraft in the US for training
at the international F-35 pilot training
centre remains on track.
The meeting heard the Australian
F-35A variant is meeting all key per-
formance parameters, including range,
stealth, speed, sensors, radar and
weight, and that 80 per cent of its full
software capability is flying today.
USAF MAJGEN John F. Thompson,
of the US JSF program office, told the
meeting the F-35 flight test program
across the three variants exceeded over-
all test point and flight goals last year.
He said that software development
and flight test execution remained the
program's primary focus over the next
"While F-35 flight testing is pro-
ceeding slightly ahead of the revised
schedule, only 20 per cent of flight test-
ing is currently completed," MAJGEN
"Many of the more challenging ele-
ments of flight testing are ahead of us.
"Our flight test program will inform
us of what the issues are in the design
that we need to work on."
Australia's head of the F-35 project,
AVM Kym Osley, said the discussions
provided useful indicators on F-35 pro-
"This will help inform everyone's
decision-making on the F-35," he said.
Sydney in JSF spotlight
Above, ADF members with the
Joint Strike Fighter Steering
Board delegates, headed by
David Van Buren, during a visit
to RAAF Base Williamtown.
Photo: CPL Mark McConnell
PROGRAM ON TRACK: Left,
JSF in full flight in the US.
Photo: Darin Russell,
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