Royal Australian Air Force receives four new F-35 fighter jets

Four F-35A Lightning II aircraft touched down at Royal Australian Air Force Base Williamtown between August 30 and September 2. It brings the total of F-35As based in Australia to 54 of the total planned fleet of 72 aircraft.

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Royal Australian Air Force receives four new F 35 fighter jets 01 It brings the total of F-35As based in Australia to 54 of the total planned fleet of 72 aircraft  (Picture source: RAAF)

The newest aircraft to join the fleet were 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 for Australia’s F-35A combat capability. “These new jets represent a 10 per cent 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 United States Luke Air Force Base in Arizona with 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 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 rapidly advancing our F-35A capability.”