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F-35As to transform air combat capability

Terry Turner

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Australia will acquire another 58 F-35A Lightning II aircraft in a major boost to the nation’s air combat capability, Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced in Canberra on April 23.

The additional aircraft will lift the total number of F-35As Australia will acquire to 72, after a previous decision to purchase 14.

This will create a total of three operational squadrons – two at RAAF Base Williamtown and one at RAAF Base Tindal – and a training squadron at RAAF Base Williamtown
The F-35A will replace the Royal Australian Air Force’s fleet of F/A-18A/B Hornets.

The first aircraft will arrive in Australia in 2018, with Number 3 Squadron operational by 2021. All 72 aircraft are expected to be operational by 2023.

The total cost will be $12.4 billion including about $1.6 billion for new facilities at RAAF Bases Williamtown and Tindal.

The Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Geoff Brown, is enthusiastic about the F-35’s stealth capabilities.

He said the jump between a fourth- and fifth-generation fighter was dramatic.

“It’s the difference between being in a biplane against a monoplane pre-World War II, the difference between a piston engine and a jet – it’s one of those game-changing events,” he said.

Air Marshal Brown said the announcement of an additional 58 Joint Strike Fighters allowed Air Force to plan for the full withdrawal of the 71 F/A-18A/B Hornets.

“The Hornet’s been the mainstay of our air combat fleet for nearly 30 years. To be signed up to the future means we can go forward and plan how we’re going to transition,” he said.

“The transition will be quite a difficult thing to do because we need to move people from that era of technology into a completely different generation.”

Air Marshal Brown said the F-35As would need upgrades to maintain their combat edge but the Joint Strike Fighter program was designed for easier improvements than the F/A-18s.

He said the F-35As would be complemented by the RAAF’s 24 F/A-18F Super Hornets and 12 EA-18G Growlers.

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.

D+I Newsroom

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raaf-poseidon
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.

raaf-poseidon

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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australian-f35
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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