The first of a new squadron of F-35A Lightning II supersonic fighter jets have touched down in the Northern Territory.
The Joint Strike Fighters replace the Royal Australian Airforce's F/A-18A/B Classic Hornet fleet, which flew for 33 years.
They will be operated by No.75 Squadron at RAAF Base Tindal, about 330km south of Darwin.
Defence Minister Peter Dutton says the Top End is an important location for national defence and a hub for regional engagement.
"The Tindal-based F-35As will assure the Australian Defence Force's ability to deter or defeat threats to Australia's interests," he said on Thursday.
The stealth aircraft will bolster the nation's ability to "project potent air power" into the Indo-Pacific region.
That includes Australia's northern approaches; ranging from the northeast Indian Ocean, through maritime and mainland Southeast Asia to Papua New Guinea and the southwest Pacific.
The squadron will also work with US aircraft deployments amid increased military co-operation between the two nations.
The fighters are not expected to be cleared for full military operation until December 2023 when the squadron will have increased to 16 F35A jets.
The fifth-generation fighting jets can reach 1.6 times the speed of sound at almost 2000km/h - and have a $124 million price tag.
They were developed by Lockheed Martin over 16 years under a controversial program that cost taxpayers $17 billion for 72 of the aircraft.
Lockheed Martin will support the RAAF's aircraft maintenance program at Tindal.
No.75 Squadron retired its ageing F/A-18A/B Hornet fleet in November.
Australian Associated Press