Australia’s first commanding officer of an F-35A Joint Strike Fighter squadron, Wing Commander Darren Clare, had his first opportunity to see the aircraft up close at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) in the United Kingdom last week.
CAPTION: Wing Commander Darren Clare with a Joint Strike Fighter at RAF Fairford, UK, during the Royal International Air Tattoo. Photo by Corporal Brenton Kwaterski.
WGCDR Clare is currently posted to the UK to complete the Advanced Command and Staff Course, and said he was looking forward to commencing his appointment as commanding officer of Number 3 Squadron in 2017.
“It’s a big responsibility, but one that I’m excited to have,” WGCDR Clare said.
“This aircraft will provide Australia with some amazing opportunities to build a fifth-generation Air Force.
Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Leo Davies said WGCDR Clare would have a significant role.
“The aircraft will bring a new capability to the Royal Australian Air Force, and Darren will have a lot of responsibility to develop the tactics, techniques and procedures for the F-35A to the Australian context, and ensure the F-35A is integrated into our fleet through Plan Jericho,” Air Marshal Davies said.
Australia has committed to buy 72 F-35A Lightening for three operational squadrons at RAAF Base Williamtown and RAAF Base Tindal, and a training squadron at RAAF Base Williamtown.
In the future, a fourth operational squadron may be considered for RAAF Base Amberley, for a total fleet of 100.
Australia’s first F-35A is scheduled to arrive in Australia in 2018 and the first squadron, Number 3 Squadron, should be operational in 2021.
All 72 aircraft are expected to be fully operational by 2023.
The F-35A is being purchased by the RAAF under project AIR 6000 at a cost of about $15billion.
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