Keeping jets in the air
Flying Officer Jeremy Heath works at the forefront of Australia’s defence capability, sourcing parts for the nation’s expanding fleet of F-35A multi-role fighter aircraft.
CAPTION: Logistics Officer, Flying Officer Jeremy Heath in front of an F-35A Lightning II at RAAF Base Williamtown. Story by Flight Lieutenant Bronwyn Marchant. Photo by Corporal Craig Barrett.
Armed with a Bachelor of Commerce (professional accounting) obtained from Macquarie University in 2020, Flying Officer Heath serves as a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Logistics Officer. He’s in charge of the resupply warehouse in Williamtown near Newcastle, for Australia’s fleet of F-35s, the world’s most technologically-advanced fighter jet.
“The aim is to keep our jets in the air. This involves liaison with contractors (local and global) as well as uniformed members such as engineers, technicians and logisticians so spares are delivered to get aircraft back online. Technical skills, soft skills and time management are all equally critical to mission readiness’’
Flying Officer Heath honed his technical and soft skills at Macquarie in group projects. These included problem solving, time management and conflict management, all developed while holding down part-time employment at Bunnings warehouse.
At high school and university, he never imagined becoming a commissioned Air Force officer.
“When I began uni, I was uncertain about my career goals. I had an interest in forensic accounting however I was not sure where I wanted to go with it,” Flying Officer Heath said.
The highlight of his time at university was an exchange study program with Florida International University in Miami. Apart from exploring the Florida Keys by kayak or by air-boat, he made many American friends.
“Going on exchange really forced me to come out of my shell and I absolutely loved it,” he said.
“It was eye-opening because I met some people who were in the US Air Force, so it also gave me context to the American defence system and how it interacts with its allies such as Australia.”
Returning to Australia in his last year at Macquarie, Flying Officer Heath felt he was becoming more work-ready.
“I was learning how accounting processes enable businesses to function and the importance of effective fiscal management.
“This is really important in the corporate world and especially within the government. My lecturers and tutors reinforced this with real-world examples.” Flying Officer Heath said.
With an ambition to join the Air Force, Flying Officer Heath began a competitive recruitment process that involved physical, health and psychometric tests, and rounds of interviews.
Once he was accepted into the ADF, he completed 18 weeks at Officer Training School in Victoria, and then went to RAAF Base Wagga Wagga for logistics training.
Today, he holds a two-part role in Williamtown. As well as being a supply chain manager assisting the F-35 program, he also manages a 12-person logistics section as the officer in charge.
“I help ensure my team gets adequate performance recognition, career advancement, and training opportunities to ensure logistics support is provided to our F-35 fleet,” he said.
Flying Officer Heath continues his balancing act, taking on a masters degree as well as several project management qualifications, all while working full time keeping jets in the air.