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Update: Australia plans first F-35 involvement in Exercise ‘Bersama Lima'

The Royal Australian Air Force's (RAAF's) plan to use Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II in ‘Bersama Lima 2024' is expected to improve the exercise's operational complexity. (Australian Department of Defence)

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) will deploy Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning IIs for the first time in Exercise ‘Bersama Lima', the Australian Minister of Defence Richard Marles has said.

This is the “first time Australia will be contributing F-35 Joint Strike Fighters to that exercise, and that will be the first time we'll have a fifth-generation aircraft participating in ‘Bersama Lima'”, Marles said during a meeting of the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) in Singapore on 31 May.

The FPDA is a bilateral defence relationship framework involving Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, and the United Kingdom. ‘Bersama Lima' is a core exercise within the FPDA.

A spokesperson from the Australian Department of Defence (DoD) told Janes on 6 June that the FPDA is Australia's “longest-standing regional security mechanism”, which makes them “a valuable contribution to regional security”.

According to Marles, the involvement of the F-35As will render mission profiles and operations of ‘Bersama Lima' even “more high end and more complex” than previous iterations of the exercise.

The Singapore Minister of Defence, Ng Eng Hen, said that the exercise will reflect enhancements to the FPDA, with an agreement “to include more high-end warfighting capabilities [and] conventional capabilities”.

The Australian DoD spokesperson said that there are two annual exercises in the Bersama exercise series: Exercise ‘Bersama Shield', followed by Exercise ‘Bersama Lima'. “Exercise ‘Bersama Lima' is designed to exercise the militaries of the FPDA in combined joint operations to enhance our interoperability and strengthen professional relationships,” the spokesperson added.

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