Australia to buy 58 new F-35 fighter jets

F-35A The F-35 is widely seen as one of the most advanced fighter jets in the world

Australia has approved the purchase of 58 new F-35 fighter jets worth 12.4bn Australian dollars ($11.5bn; £6.8bn).

The new order will take Australia's total F-35 tally to 72.

The government said it would also spend more than A$1.6bn on new facilities at two air bases in the states of New South Wales and the Northern Territory.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said that the purchase would "ensure our edge as a regional power". He added the deal did not involve any "new spending".

"I want to stress that this is money that has been put aside by government over the past decade or so to ensure that this purchase can responsibly be made," Mr Abbott said.

He added that the government needed to make the purchases "to ensure that our nation's defences remain strong".

The F-35, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), is built by Lockheed Martin Corp and is widely seen as one of the most advanced fighter jets.

It has been designed to avoid being detected by radar, making it a key asset to have while trying to penetrate enemy defences.

Australia ordered its first batch of 14 F-35 jets in 2009. The first of those aircraft are scheduled to enter service in 2020.

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