Training equipment for Australia’s soon-to-be-delivered F-35A Lightning fighter fleet was delivered to RAAF Base Williamtown yesterday – though everyone seemed to be more interested in the means of delivery than the actual cargo.
CAPTION: An Antonov 124 cargo plane arrives at RAAF Base Williamtown near Newcastle NSW to deliver F-35A training equipment. RAAF photo.
Minister for Defence Marise Payne issued a press release highlighting that “one of the world’s largest aircraft has landed at RAAF Base Williamtown” carrying the first delivery of Australia’s training equipment for the Joint Strike Fighter.
“The Antonov An-124 touched down this afternoon after a two-day journey from the United Kingdom carrying equipment for the Australian F-35A Integrated Training Centre,” Minister Payne said.
“[This] deliver includes an Ejection Systems Maintenance Trainer, which is a replica of the F-35A aircraft escape systems, and a Weapons Load Trainer, which replicates the F-35A fuselage, including the weapons bay and wing hard points.
“The equipment delivered [yesterday] will provide Australia with its own F-35 pilot and maintainer training capability and will form part of the overall Australian F-35A Training System.
“Importantly, this equipment will enable our pilots and crews to train without having to remove aircraft from flight schedules.
“This is an important milestone, with two of Australia’s F-35A aircraft to be based at RAAF Base Williamtown from December 2018 and pilot training expected to commence at Williamtown from mid next year.”
Minister Payne said future deliveries to Williamtown’s No. 2 Operational Conversion Unit would include six Full Mission Simulators required for F-35A pilot training.
“The first two of these six simulators will be delivered later this year,” she said.
“The Antonov departed Yorkshire on 30 April 2018, with stop overs at Gujarat in India and Senai in Malaysia before arriving to Williamtown.
“RAAF Base Williamtown last hosted an Antonov 124 – the ‘baby’ of the Antonov heavy-lift fleet – approximately 10 years ago.”