|F/A-18F Super Hornets|
The country plans to buy up to 100 F-35 fighters and has placed an initial order for 14. The Royal Australian Air Force was expected to induct the first batch of F-35 advanced stealth fighters by 2018.
However, the US Air Force too is buying the same variant of the Joint Strike Fighter as the RAAF and has pushed back the dates by which it expects to have its first squadrons operational from mid-2016 to 2017 -- and possibly now to mid-2018, the news report said.
Despite assurances from Lockheed Martin that the first 14 fighters will be delivered to it on time, Australian defense officials believe that deployment of the new generation fighters in the RAAF would not happen before 2020 or even later.
As the RAAF's aging 'Hornets' would be nearing the end of their life span by that time, to bridge the gap in its air defence, Australia is weighing the option to buy 18 more Super Hornets at a total cost of $1.6 billion.
The Australian Government had signed a $6 billion deal with the US in 2007 to acquire 24 F/A-18F Super Hornets. The fighters are being delivered in batches.