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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

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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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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riverfire-hornet

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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