CANBERRA, Sept. 5 (Xinhua) -- Australia's new F-35A fighter jets are the "most lethal" in the world, said the nation's Minister for Defence Christopher Pyne on Wednesday.
Pyne on Wednesday responded to criticism of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program, under which the Australian government has committed to paying Lockheed Martin 17 billion Australian dollars (12.2 billion U.S. dollars) for 72 aircraft, which claimed that the fighters were already out-dated.
Peter Goon, a former Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) test-flight engineer, has been critical of the program since it was announced; going as far as to run simulations he said prove the new jets could be outrun and outflown by other models.
Pyne denied those claims, saying that critics did not have access to all the information made available to the government.
"Every advice I have received, every briefing, from the chief of the air force to the airmen that fly the F-35A has been unanimous: this platform is the most lethal and inter-operable with other platforms in the same battle space in the world," he told News Corp Australia on Wednesday.
"I certainly don't intend to put that advice below the opinions of those who are not privy to the same level of intelligence-sharing as the chiefs who advise the Australian government."
The program has been plagued by problems since Australia announced it would participate in the "system development and demonstration phase" of the JSF in 2002.
U.S. President Donald Trump said in December 2017 that the cost blowout associated with the program was "out of control."
The RAAF has six aircraft available at a U.S. airforce base to train pilots and ground crew with the first two due to be delivered to a RAAF base in December. They are expected to enter service in 2020.