Arrival of the first two Lockheed Martin Lightning II aircraft to RAAF Base Williamtown

10 Dec 2018

The RAAF’s first 5th generation fighter is the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II. The type began operational use in Australia in December 2018. However, the first appearance by the aircraft in Australia was at the 2017 Australian International Airshow at Avalon where it was displayed by the first two RAAF pilots to qualify on the F-35A, WGCDR Andrew Jackson and SQNLDR David Bell.

The acquisition of the F-35A was intended as the replacement for the F/A-18A/B ‘Classic’ Hornet and the F-111 aircraft. The ability to replace both aircraft with one type was intended to move the RAAF towards a ‘whole of capacity’ strategy. The RAAF has planned to purchase seventy-two aircraft and their support equipment, making it the most expensive acquisition program in RAAF history.

Australia is working alongside its British and American allies to establish and test the Mission Data Files used by the F-35. It is these files that make the F-35 a ‘smart’ aircraft. The ability to alter and update the software of this aircraft is critical for it to continue to meet its operational requirements.

F-35A Lightning II aircraft have been delivered to Nos 3, 75 and 77 Squadrons, and No 2 Operational Conversion Unit.

The RAAF should receive its seventy-second F-35 in 2023 to continue and expand its operational capability. 

To learn more, download this extract from Aircraft of the Royal Australian Air Force by David Richardson and Peter Wood.

Related base

  • RAAF Base Williamtown

Related aircraft

  • F-35 Lightning