RAAF formally accepted 30th F-35 stealth jet

The Royal Australian Air Force has formally accepted its 30th F-35A Joint Strike Fighter from Lockheed Martin, as the nation’s fifth-generation fighter fleet and capability continues to grow, writes Stephen Kuper.

Significant work is undertaken by Lockheed Martin before Australia can formally accept each jet, with pre-acceptance testing involving multiple checks on the production line at Lockheed Martin’s facility in Texas, as well as several flight tests to ensure each F-35A is up to the tasks the RAAF requires.

F-35A Air Vehicle Lead Squadron Leader Brook Porter is about to wrap up his three-year posting to Joint Strike Fighter Branch in Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group, where he has been involved in accepting 28 F-35A aircraft.

SQNLDR Porter explained the in-depth acceptance process ensured each F-35A was ready for Australian defence registration and operational use.

Director General Joint Strike Fighter Branch Air Commodore Damien Keddie said accepting and ferrying each of Australia’s jets was the epitome of international collaboration.

This announcement comes days following the successful completion of Exercise Lightning Storm, which saw a spectrum of RAAF assets combined around the nation, ranging from the E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEWC), the F/A-18A Hornets, F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, KC-30A Tankers and Hawk Lead-in fighters, all combine with the F-35.

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Commander Air Combat Group (ACG), Air Commodore Tim Alsop, shed some light on the training program and the performance of the F-35, as the RAAF put its new wonder jet through its paces.

Over the coming years, Australia will purchase 72 of the advanced fifth-generation fighter aircraft as part of the $17 billion AIR 6000 Phase 2A/B program – which is aimed at replacing the ageing F/A-18A/B Classic Hornets that have been in service with the RAAF since 1985.

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