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Australian F-35 Lightening Fighters clock up 1000th flight

Australia’s F-35 Lightning jet fighter fleet clocked up its 1000th flying sortie.

Terry Turner

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Australian personnel currently based at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, in the United States, marked a significant milestone this week as Australia’s F-35 Lightning fleet clocked up its 1000th flying sortie.

Our F-35A team is working together with the 56th Fighter Wing US Air Force and Lockheed Martin to develop Australia’s initial F-35A capability. Royal Australian Air Force pilots and maintenance personnel are fully embedded and integrated in USAF squadrons as they prepare to lead Australia’s transition to a fifth-generation Air Force.

Terry Turner is Senior Editor for Defence.com.au and Editor in Chief for the entire stable of CYBER PRESS magazines.CYBER PRESS is an Australian media business specialising in multi-channel broad audience online digital publishing. Our company is the evolution of Eco Magazines, Australia's premiere dedicated online publisher of full-format digital magazines. Put simply, we specialise, where many merely dabble.

Air Force

EA-18G Growler at Riverfire

A RAAF EA-18G Hornet, aka the Growler, at Riverfire, Brisbane, Queensland.

D+I Newsroom

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The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has a long association with Brisbane’s Sunsuper Riverfire.

The ADF was proud to take part in the 20th anniversary of Sunsuper Riverfire in 2017 with flying displays by the Air Force’s Roulettes, EA-18G Growlers, C-17A Globemaster and Army’s MRH90 helicopters.

The RAAF EA-18G Growler depicted here is conducting flying practice along the Brisbane River in preparation for Brisbane’s Sunsuper Riverfire, an annual family event run attracting enormous crowds along the Brisbane River.

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AIR

Australia’s Chief of Air Force Completes First Flight in the AIR 5428 PC-21

Terry Turner

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EAST SALE, Australia, August 16, 2017 – In a recent ceremony that marked a significant milestone for the AIR 5428 Pilot Training System, Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) celebrated the Chief of Air Force first flight of the in-service PC-21 aircraft.

The occasion was celebrated at a media event hosted by Australian Minister for Defence Senator the Hon Marise Payne, in East Sale, Australia.  Also in attendance was The Hon Darren Chester MP, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, highlighting the significance of the program to the Australian Government.

Vince Di Pietro, chief executive for Lockheed Martin Australia attended the event along with AIR 5428 partners Pilatus Aircraft and Hawker Pacific.

“We are excited to celebrate this momentous occasion with the CAF and recognise this marks the beginning of training for Australia’s fifth-generation air capability,” said Vince Di Pietro. “This milestone is a great achievement to all involved and we celebrate the Australian Defence Force’s first flight in service and acceptance of the first six of 49 PC-21 aircraft, as the mainstay trainer for Australia’s pilot training program for decades to come.”

“Combining the PC-21 turboprop training aircraft with state-of-the-art training simulations and an electronic learning environment, Australia’s new Pilot Training System will prepare Australia’s next-generation pilots for mission success.”

The AIR 5428 Pilot Training System is an integrated solution tailored for all future pilots of the Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Australian Navy and the Australian Army.

“Lockheed Martin Australia leads the delivery of integrated solutions for all future pilots of the Australian Defence Force,” said Amy Gowder, vice president of Training and Logistics Solutions for Lockheed Martin’s Rotary and Mission Systems business.  “This milestone is an important achievement, and confirms the Lockheed Martin-led team is on track to deliver a world-class pilot training solution to the Australian Defence Force.”

Under the AIR 5428 contract, Lockheed Martin is providing overall project management for the pilot training system and delivering a family of integrated ground-based training technologies. Pilatus Aircraft is providing 49 PC-21 turboprop training aircraft and through-life engineering and airworthiness support, while Hawker Pacific is providing maintenance services and fleet support, and leveraging its established supply chain in Australia.                                          

Signed in December 2015, the initial seven-year AIR 5428 Pilot Training System is valued at AU$1.2 billion, with performance-based options to extend the value and length of the contract for up to 25 years.

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Air Force

Australia’s first F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s less than 500 days away

Australia’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighters less than 500 days away

Terry Turner

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As the global F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program surpasses 100,000 flying hours, the Australian F-35A Project is counting down with less than 500 days until the first two Australian F-35A aircraft arrive for permanent basing in Australia.

Head of CASG’s Joint Strike Fighter Division, AVM Leigh Gordon, said that while this milestone marks a significant level of maturity for the global Program, working together will be the key to successful project delivery for Australia.

“The Australian F-35A Project is far more than just delivery of 72 aircraft, it’s also about working with Air Force, industry and across Defence to introduce brand new systems needed to operate the F-35A,” said AVM Leigh Gordon.

“Examples of these new systems include the Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS); interfacing and being part of a F-35 Global Support Solution; and transitioning the workforce so we have a fifth generation technical workforce ready to operate this impressive capability,” he said.

“While we are on track to achieve initial operating capability by 2020, there are still risks that will take coordination to address.

“The biggest challenge is integrating the F-35A fifth generation capability into Australia with the preparations at Williamtown a focus right now.

The first F-35A support facility, the Off Board Information Systems Centre, was officially opened last month which will support the Australian ALIS as part of almost AU$1 billion worth of work being undertaken to transform Williamtown ready to support F-35A operations.

The Air Force’s Director Air Combat Transition Office, Group Captain Glen Beck, said the F-35A capability will transform the way Air Force does business in almost every facet of operations.

“The new technology is very exciting, but getting our people ready to operate this large, global and technologically complex capability will be critical to our success,” said Group Captain Beck.

“While the facilities and aircraft are very tangible, the less tangible work like setting up a different workforce and systems to support fifth generation maintenance, logistics, training and operations is where our effort is focussed.

“Australia will be standing up squadrons in relatively quick succession between 2019 and 2023 and we need to be prepared to take on that challenge as we prepare our first ferry next year and integration beyond.

“We have recently finished a range of workshops involving Australian F-35A operators currently based in the US, to cover different scenarios to ensure we can operate the F-35A safely and effectively in the Australian environment,” he said.

Two Australian aircraft will be based at Williamtown from December next year and in early 2019 Air Force will start verifying and validating processes for operating the F-35A in the Australian context.

Fast Facts – Australian F-35A Project
  • The Australian F-35 Project remains within budget and on schedule to meet Australia’s 2020 Initial Operating Capability requirement.
  • Australia’s first two F-35A aircraft were delivered to the international Pilot Training Centre (PTC) at Luke Air Force Base (AFB) in Arizona in December 2014 for pilot and maintainer training.
  • Australia has four pilots qualified and instructing on the F-35A at Luke AFB.
  • More than 30 Australians are working in the US as key members of the F-35 global strategic partnership across a range of disciplines.
  • Australia’s next eight aircraft will be delivered in 2018. Six of these aircraft will initially operate as part of the pool of aircraft at the F-35 Pilot Training Centre at Luke Air Force Base. The remaining two aircraft will be ferried to Australia in December 2018 and be the first two F-35As to be based in Australia.
  • Australian F-35A aircraft have flown a combined total of more than 1,000 hours.
  • Australia completed its first deployment when its two F-35A aircraft deployed from the US to Australia for the Avalon Air Show in March 2017.

Photo compliments Captain Nicole White

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