The first of Australia’s much anticipated Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) F-35A Lightening II Joint Strike Fighters (JSF) successfully took flight from Fort Worth, Texas on Monday 29 September. It was a maiden flight for the Australian F-35A, lasting approximately two hours.
“Seeing this aircraft fly today, combined with the fact that we will deliver our first two aircraft to Luke Air Force Base early next year, demonstrates the commitment and combined efforts of the Royal Australian Air Force, Defence Materiel Organisation, United States Air Force and the F-35 Joint Program Office team,” Air Commodore Roberts said.
Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Geoff Brown, AO, said that the occasion of the first flight is an important symbolic step towards Australia’s new air combat capability.
“The F-35A will provide the RAAF with a transformational 5thcapability and significant benefits for the Australian aerospace industry,” Air Marshal Brown said.
“Australian industry has already won contracts worth more than US$412 million as a partner in the JSF program.”
The first two of 72 F-35A Lightening II JSF aircraft for Australia were rolled out of the Lockheed Martin’s production facility in Fort Worth, Texas on 24 July 2014. The F-35As will replace the RAAF’s current fleet of ageing F/A-18A/B Hornets.
Following initial acceptance, the first aircraft will undertake flight test and airworthiness program leading to acceptance and ferry of aircraft to Luke Air Force Base (AFB), Arizona in 2015 to support the commencement of Australian pilot training.
The first F-35A aircraft will enter service in Australia in 2018 with the first operational squadron established by 2020. (RAAF)