The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has embarked on an exciting era as No. 3 Squadron now has its first F-35A Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).
The RAAF accepted its first F-35A to be operated by No. 3 Squadron in early September.
Australia now has a total of nine aircraft. Under the F-35 aircrew and maintenance training program, the first eight aircraft are under the command of the international Pilot Training Centre at Luke Air Force Base (AFB) in Arizona, US.
Commander Air Combat Group (ACG) Air Commodore (AIRCDRE) Michael Kitcher said it was an important milestone for Air Force “as aircraft A35-009 is accepted by No. 3 Squadron at Luke AFB”.
“It is an exciting time for ACG as we transition to F-35A operations over the next few years,” AIRCDRE Kitcher said.
“While there are challenges ahead, particularly as we prepare for the conduct of Australian-based operations next year, I am confident we are well placed to manage the transition.
“Any issues we might face will be managed with the ongoing support of the JSF Division and Air Combat Systems Program Office.’’
AIRCDRE Kitcher said increased security requirements would present challenges for personnel at RAAF Base Williamtown, but the introduction of Super Hornets and Growlers had already laid firm foundations.
He expected security systems to develop and mature to handle the challenges.
“We plan to conduct the transition process with a ‘crawl, walk, run’ approach with an initial low rate of effort,” he said.
“Our flying program will initially involve functional check flights, ferry work-up and ferry flights, flying training activities in Australia and public relations activities.”