RAAF Base Williamtown opened its gates on Friday, 5 July, as it hosted an F-35A Community Day for invited community members, leaders, organisational representatives and Defence community partners of the Hunter region.
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Boarding buses at RAAF Heritage Centre ‘Fighter World’ on Medowie Road, guests were treated to a ‘windscreen’ familiarisation tour, with Air Force personnel providing commentary and a unique insight into the Base, its infrastructure and its history.
The highlight of the tour program was the F-35A precinct, with the project representing almost $1 billion of investment at RAAF Base Williamtown.
Guests were invited to view the facility including state-of-the-art maintenance and training areas developed for the F-35A, which welcomed two aircraft in December 2018 and the third and fourth aircraft in April this year.
A static display of an F-35A aircraft formed the centrepiece of the program with operating pilots on-hand to answer questions relating to the aircraft and its capability.
Senior Australian Defence Force Officer at RAAF Base Williamtown, Group Captain (GPCAPT) Peter Cluff, said the F-35A Community day was an important event that maintains that community connection.
“RAAF Williamtown has a long association with the regional community, and our close relationship with community members, organisations and our Defence community partners is something we truly value,” GPCAPT Cluff said.
“As proud members of the community, we were pleased to showcase the F-35A aircraft as a fifth-generation aircraft that is at the forefront of air combat technology.
“The day also has highlighted the value of the capability in Defence of Australia as well as the economic benefit to the local economy – with up to 1500 additional jobs in the Hunter region created during the peak of the project’s construction phase.”
Group Captain Cluff acknowledged the ongoing support of the community that has been instrumental to the successful delivery and sustainment of the project.
“The opportunity to provide our friends and neighbours with an insight into the Air Force’s newest capability, the F-35A aircraft and its supporting facility, is a great privilege,” he said.
“While the new aircraft and infrastructure is clearly impressive – more importantly, the F-35A Community Day has allowed guests to meet the highly-trained, highly skilled professional Air Force personnel that maintain and fly the aircraft – without whom, none of this would be possible,” GPCAPT Cluff said.
The F-35A delivers fifth-generation capability transforming the way the ADF operates in the modern battlespace. Its next-generation capability benefits include stealth, advanced sensors, data fusion and the ability to share information with other platforms be they air, land or sea-based.