The aircraft was developed as a replacement for several different types of U.S. warplanes.
A spokeswoman for Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith said a government decision last year to defer orders of its first squadron of F-35s would limit Canberra’s exposure to the spiralling cost of the project.
Australia is due to decide at the end of this year on the timing of its next order of 12 F-35s while it considers options to replace Classic F/A-18 fighter jets. Canberra’s fleet of 71 F/A-18s entered service between 1985 and 1990 and were due to retire by around 2020.
Australia also has 24 of the new generation F/A-18F Super Hornets, which entered service in 2010 and 2011, 12 of which have been upgraded with sophisticated U.S. jamming equipment.