Four new F-35A Lightning II Aircraft for No 81 Wing

Australia’s newest F-35A Lightning II aircraft A35-053 and A35-054 arrive at RAAF Base Williamtown in New South Wales, at the end of their journey during exercise Lightning Ferry 22-3.

A FURTHER four F-35A Lightning II aircraft touched down at RAAF Base Williamtown between 30 August and 2 September 2022.

It brings the total of F-35As based in Australia to 54 of the total planned fleet of 72 aircraft.

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The newest aircraft to join the fleet have been accepted by No 77 Squadron, on behalf of No 81 Wing in Air Combat Group.

Commanding Officer No 77 Squadron, Wing Commander Tim Ireland, said it was another important step forward in the stand-up of Australia’s F-35A combat capability.

“These new jets represent a ten percent increase in training and combat capacity for our growing F 35A fighting Wing,” Wing Commander Ireland said.

The latest aircraft were ferried across the Pacific Ocean as part of Exercise Lightning Ferry 22-3, the third delivery task of this year.

The four F-35As made the journey from Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, United States, with a trans-Pacific stops made at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii, and Andersen Air Force Base in Guam.

They were supported by Air Mobility Group elements, including a KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport from No 33 Squadron and a C-17A Globemaster from No 36 Squadron.

Wing Commander Ireland said the success of Exercise Lightning Ferry 22-3 was the result of detailed planning and coordination across Air Force.

“All ferries are complex events requiring synchronisation and flexibility from across Air Combat Group, Air Mobility Group, Air Combat Systems Program Office, Aerospace Combat Systems Branch and the Air Operations Centre,” Wing Commander Ireland said.

“These four aircraft represent a quarter of a fighter squadron in capability. Australia now has three-quarters of its F-35As at home,” Wing Commander Ireland said.

“No 77 Squadron celebrated 80 years of service this year.

“We all feel very honoured to be advancing our F 35A capability rapidly forward.”

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