The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has received four new F-35A Lightning II aircraft to bolster the force’s aerial combat capability.
The fighters landed at RAAF Base Williamtown, New South Wales, and have been assigned to the No. 77 Squadron, a team under the Air Combat Group No. 81 Wing.
The additional aircraft contribute to the RAAF goal of expanding Australia’s F-35A fleet to 72.
The RAAF currently has 54 F-35As. The latest arrival marks the third delivery supporting the F-35A fleet expansion this year.
“These new jets represent a 10 percent increase in training and combat capacity for our growing F-35A fighting wing,” No. 77 Squadron Wing Commander Tim Ireland said.
“It was another important step forward for Australia’s F-35A combat capability.”
Journey to Australia
The fighters were shipped from Luke Air Force Base in Arizona with transpacific stops in Hawaii and Guam.
The RAAF No. 33 and No. 36 Squadrons provided the KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport and C-17A Globemaster to serve as the Air Mobility Group for the transport to Australia.
As part of the trip, the four F-35As were also ferried part of the way across the Pacific under RAAF Exercise Lightning Ferry 22.
“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,” 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.”
“No. 77 Squadron celebrated 80 years of service this year. We all feel very honoured to be rapidly advancing our F-35A capability.”