F-35As begin flying operations near RAAF Base Williamtown this week, scheduled from 21 to 25 January.
FILE PHOTO (10 December 2018): One of the first two Royal Australian Air Force F-35A Lightning Joint Strike Fighters flies overhead RAAF Base Williamtown on delivery day. Photo by Brian Hartigan.
The first two F-35A Joint Strike Fighters arrived at their new Australian home last December.
Watch RAAF’s first two F-35As land at Williamtown for the first time.
Commander of Air Combat Group (ACG) Air Commodore Michael Kitcher said the two aircraft would begin a phase of operations designed to verify and validate the jet’s capabilities during 2019-2020 in the lead-up to the declaration of the Initial Operational Capability (IOC) at the end of 2020.
“At the end of 2019, Air Combat Group expects to have taken delivery of up to eight aircraft,’’ Air Commodore Kitcher said.
“In December 2020, Australia will have up to 33 aircraft, established a sovereign training capability and completed verification and validation of the Australian F-35A capability.
“By the end of 2020 one operational squadron will be proficient in air combat, strike and offensive air support, and ready to deploy in support of Australia’s national interests.”
The Australian Government has approved the acquisition of 72 aircraft and the F-35A fleet will comprise three operational squadrons.
Numbers 3 and 77 Squadron operate out of RAAF Base Williamtown in New South Wales, and Number 75 Squadron based at RAAF Base Tindal near Katherine, Northern Territory.
Number 2 Operational Conversion Unit will also fly F-35As out of RAAF Base Williamtown.
The majority of the $1.5B invested to house and support the F-35A have been constructed at RAAF Base Williamtown. The facilities include new working accommodation, maintenance hangars, storage, workshop facilities, training facilities, aircraft runway, and pavement works.
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