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GREAT NEWS:
No.3 Squadron to be the RAAF's F-35 Pioneers!

Australia's first F-35A Strike Fighter is currently on the assembly-line. 

RAAF New Air Combat Capability Project Manager, AVM Kym Osley, was at the F-35A manufacturing plant Fort Worth in Texas when the RAAF’s first F-35A came together.

“They put the three parts of the fuselage together and installed the wings,” AVM Osley said. “We expect the first Australian F-35A to come off the production line in July 2014 and the second in August 2014.”

After production is complete, the jets will fly to Luke Air Force Base in Arizona to be used in the pilot training pool.

“They will be integrated into a US Air Force squadron as part of the pilot training continuum.  We expect our first Australian pilot to start training in early 2015.  There will be more people training in the years after that and we expect our first aircraft to be in Australia in 2018.”

The first operational squadron of F-35As, which will be No. 3 Squadron, should be up and running by the end of 2020.  AVM Osley said the new F-35As came in slightly less than the expected $130 million for each aircraft and future aircraft were expected to reduce further in price.  He said the program had undergone significant testing but about 60 per cent was still to be completed. 

“In terms of Testing, there are no show-stoppers at this point in time,” he said. “Now they’re up to dropping air-to-air and air-to-ground telemetry weapons.  Later this year they will be seeing the first live ‘all up’ missiles and bombs to test end-to-end performance and accuracy.”

With system development and testing of the aircraft being done in the US, the main job of the RAAF was to prepare for the integration of the F-35A into RAAF service.

[Source: ADF News Website]


Artist's conception of a 3 Squadron F-35 in service - painted nearly ten years ago (!) by Drew Harrison.

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