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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

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

Technical camp for young women, RAAF Base Williamtown

D+I Newsroom

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© Department of Defence

Fifteen people attended the Technical Camp for Young Women at the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Williamtown between 27-30 August, 2018.

Participants experienced engineering and technical roles first hand, and the day-to-day routine of an Air Force base. Participants also met with Air Force members and Defence Force Recruiting specialists to discuss career opportunities

Technical Camp Officer in Charge, Flight Lieutenant Esther Suh, said Air Force was strongly committed to enhancing a more diverse and inclusive work environment and recognised that diversity was key to capability.

“To be the strongest possible organisation, Air Force needs to be able to recruit from the entire talent pool in the Australian community, both women and men,” Flight Lieutenant Suh said.

Two Newcastle students, Hannah Newham, 17, and Lucy Goodman, 16, were among the participants.

“I liked a lot of the more hands-on activities, such as the flight simulator,” Hannah said.

Lucy said Air Force was appealing because of the diverse range of opportunities it offered.

She enjoyed working in the classrooms solving technical problems.

Flight and technical camps for young women have been running since 2013 and have produced positive results with 80 per cent of participants actively pursuing Australian Defence Force careers through Defence Force Recruiting.

Due to the success of those camps, Air Force delivered the inaugural Aviation Camp for Women in July this year at RAAF Base Amberley, in Queensland.

Technical Camp Second Officer in Charge, Flight Sergeant Michelle Snape, said Air Force camps for women were incredibly rewarding for both participants and the personnel who delivered them.

“In addition to the education and training components of the camps, the camps provide a mentoring opportunity with participants engaging with inspiring Air Force personnel,” Flight Sergeant Snape said.

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Air Force

P-8A Poseidon aircraft fires Harpoon

Royal Australian Air Force load crew personnel from No. 11 Squadron position an ATM-84J Harpoon on to the P-8A Poseidon aircraft at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, during RIMPAC 2018.

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Photo: CPL Nicci Freeman © 2018 Department of Defence

A Royal Australian Air Force’s P-8A Poseidon has fired its first Harpoon during Exercise RIMPAC 2018.

This is an important event for the P-8A Poseidon in reaching Final Operational Capability. Exercise Rim of the Pacific 18 (RIMPAC 18) is a biennial military training exercise to strengthen international maritime partnerships, enhance interoperability and improve the readiness of participating forces for a wide range of potential operations.

Now in its 25th iteration, the Australian Defence Force deployed HMA Ships Adelaide, Success, Toowoomba, Melbourne and Rankin, an amphibious landing force from 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, and one P-8A Poseidon aircraft.

The multinational activity, held from 27 June to 2 August 2018 in Hawaii and off the coast of California, is the world’s largest maritime exercise and includes 25,000 personnel from 25 countries. Australian personnel will exercise across a broad spectrum of scenarios from humanitarian assistance and disaster response to maritime security operations, sea control and complex war fighting.

Participating personnel and assets will conduct gunnery, missile, anti-submarine, and air-defence exercises, as well as maritime interdiction and vessel boardings, explosive ordnance disposal, diving and salvage operations, mine clearance operations and an amphibious landing.

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Photo: CPL Nicci Freeman  © 2018 Department of Defence

Above: Royal Australian Air Force load crew personnel from No. 11 Squadron position an ATM-84J Harpoon on to the P-8A Poseidon aircraft at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, during RIMPAC 2018.

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Air Force

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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Photo: Alexander H Groves (Lockheed Martin)

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.

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