In Trans-pacific First, U.S. Marine Corps F-35C Arrived in Williamtown Australia For Exercises

In a trans-Pacific first, four F-35C Lighting II jets from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar flew to Australia for training, arriving at an airbase in New South Wales on Thursday, the service announced.

The stealth fighters flew 7,800 miles, conducting four stopovers en route. They were supported with cargo and personnel transported by a Marine KC-130J Super Hercules and refueling by Air Force KC-135 Stratotankers.

“The VMFA-314 Black Knights are beyond excited to bring the first land-based I MEF fifth-generation stealth fighters all the way from California to Australia,” said Lt. Col. Michael O’Brien, commanding officer of the fighter-attack squadron.

“Over the past year, we’ve trained in our own Marine Corps F-35Cs with the Royal Australian Air Force F-35As and E-7 Wedgetails in the U.S., and now it is time to train with our valued allies on their side of the globe,” he said.

The Marines will train at the Royal Australian Air Force base in Williamtown through mid July. More personnel from San Diego are scheduled to arrive as training progresses.

“This movement and the training to come not only demonstrate the force mobilization capability of the F-35C, but the advanced stage of tactical and logistical interoperability between the RAAF and USMC,” O-Brien said. “We have a long history of security cooperation dating back to World War II.”

The F-35C is the version of the Lockheed Martin jet with folding wings and a bigger fuel tank designed for aircraft carrier operations.

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