Australia’s First Two F-35A Jets Have Arrived Home At RAAF Williamtown

Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18 Hornets fly in formation with an F-35A Joint Strike Fighter over Newcastle, NSW. Image credit: CPL David Gibbs/ © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence

Australia’s first two locally-based F-35A fighter aircraft arrived on home soil today at Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Williamtown (accompanied by 4 F/A-18 Hornets).

F-35A Lightning II serialled A35-009 and A35-010, in the colors of the 3 SQN, arrived at their new homebase at RAAF Williamtown, Newcastle, NSW, Australia, on Dec. 10, 2018.

With the arrival of the first two aircraft, Australia becomes the 7th nation with F-35 aircraft based locally on their home soil, and with the formal stand-up of RAAF Williamtown, F-35s are now operating from 16 bases worldwide.

One of Australia’s first two F-35A aircraft commences its journey home from Luke Air Base Arizona, on 3 December, 2018. SGT CPL Dan Pinhorn / © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence

The aircraft, which had departed Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, on Dec. 3, arrived overhead RAAF Williamtown alongside four “legacy” Hornets (one of those was the camera ship from which most of the images you can find in this post were shot): A21-39, A21-38 and A21-109, representing the 77 SQN, 75SQN, 2 OCU, were among them, based on the photographs released thus far.

A35-010 and A35-009, F-35A Joint Strike Fighter fly in formation with F/A-18 Hornets. Image credit: CPL David Gibbs/ © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence

Before the 5th generation aircraft touched down on home soil for the very first time, the formation flew over Nelson Bay, Stockton Beach and Newcastle.

Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18 Hornets fly in formation with a pair of F-35A Joint Strike Fighters over Stockton Beach, NSW. Image credit: CPL David Gibbs/ © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence

During their journey from the U.S., the aircraft were also supported by a RAAF KC-30A MRTT (Multi Role Tanker Transport) that refueled the pair of stealth jets multiple times.



Australia’s has committed to 72 F-35As, which will be flown by Australian pilots, and maintained by a joint team of Australian maintenance personnel and industry partners including Lockheed Martin Australia. Australia has received 10 aircraft to date, the remainder of which are stationed at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona where they are part of the international cooperative F-35 training operations.

Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18 Hornets fly in formation with a pair of F-35A Joint Strike Fighters over Newcastle, NSW. Image credit: CPL David Gibbs/ © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence

According to LM, Australian suppliers play a significant role in the F-35 program with more than 50 Australian companies contributing to the global program of record of more than 3,000 aircraft. To date, the F-35 program has secured more than 2,400 highly skilled jobs created and generated more than $1.3 billion AUD in contracts for Australian industry.

A Royal Australian Air Force F-35A Joint Strike Fighter Aircraft arrives at RAAF Base Williamtown. Image credit: SGT Greg O’Neill / © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence

 

About David Cenciotti 3836 Articles
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.