Home' Asia Pacific Defence Reporter : APDR 02 2015 Contents SEA 1000
ighly symbolically, 24 hours before
Australia Day the Department announced:
The introduction of Australia’s 72 F-35A
Lightning II aircraft into RAAF service is
about to move a step closer tomorrow when the first
Australian pilot commences training.
Squadron Leader Andrew Jackson, Australia’s first
F-35A pilot, will commence training for his first F-35A
flight tomorrow at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, United
“The F-35A will be Australia’s first fifth-generation
aircraft and will provide the RAAF with a leading
air combat capability. I’m excited to be given the
opportunity to take a leading role in its introduction,”
SQNLDR Jackson said.
SQNLDR Jackson will undergo an intensive training
program before he takes his first flight in the coming
“The fifth generation F-35A capabilities represent
a quantum shift over legacy fighters. I am looking
forward to the training challenge it will present.
“This aircraft will give fighter pilots a level of
situational awareness that far exceeds legacy
platforms. Experiencing this level of capability first
hand is something every pilot dreams of,” he said.
SQNLDR Jackson will have an important future role
as an Instructor Pilot for Australian and international
F-35A pilots, and was selected for his operational
flying skills, extensive experience and leadership.
“It will be a great honour to work and train alongside
the United States and other international Air Force
pilots,” SQNLDR Jackson said.
The second Australian F-35A pilot, SQNLDR David
Bell, will begin his training in mid-2015. SQNLDR Bell
is a qualified Test Pilot.
The F-35A (commonly known as the Joint Strike
Fighter) will meet Australia’s future air combat and
strike needs, providing a networked force-multiplier
effect in terms of situational awareness and combat
The F-35A’s combination of stealth, advanced
sensors, networking and data fusion capabilities,
when integrated with other defence systems, will
enable the RAAF to maintain an air combat edge.
The first F-35A aircraft will arrive in Australia at the
end of 2018 with the first operational squadron to be
established by 2020. The F-35A will replace the aging
F/A-18A/B Hornets at RAAF Bases Williamtown
(NSW) and Tindal (NT).
The RAAF is certain that the F-35 represents a
transformational capability that will continue to give
it a technological advantage in our region of interest
for decades to come (see interview with Chief of the
Air Force, AM Geoff Brown on page 68). Having said
that, progress on reaching full capability has not been
APDR approached USAF LT GEN Chris Bogdan,
the F-35 Program Executive Officer for an update and
he provided the following broad response:
"Despite several setbacks and challenges in 2014,
the F-35 test program achieved significant progress
and demonstrated substantial system maturity
toward 2B fleet release and U.S . Marine Corps Initial
Operation Capability (IOC). The program overcame
an engine failure event that grounded the fleet and
pressurized the completion of test points due to
aircraft limitations and inspections. With focused
efforts to return to fly and complete 2B testing, the
test team completed Flight Science testing for F-35A
in December and is poised to complete remaining
Flight Science and Mission System testing required
for fleet release by the end of January 2015. Last
year, we also flew Block 3i and 3F Flight Science
test points and will continue to do so as we deliver
capability to meet Air Force IOC in 2016 and Navy
IOC in 2018.
“A few of our 2014 flight test highlights include:
• Provided early release of Block 2B software to
operational test force to evaluate the F-35 in a more
realistic environment (24 July)
RAAF F-35 pilot training begins
Kym Bergmann // Canberra
Australia has taken contractual ownership of our first two F-35s and now the task has commenced to prepare our pilots to begin
flying them. For the moment the aircraft remain in the hands of the United States Air Force, which under the Foreign Military
Sales system is responsible for checking that they are completely free of problems prior to being handed over.
24 Asia Pacific Defence Reporter FEB 2015
Squadron Leader Andrew Jackson
29/01/15 7:24 PM
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