First flight for first RAAF F-35

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AU-1 taxis out for its first flight. © Carl Richards
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AU-1 takes off on its first flight. © Carl Richards

The first F-35A Lightning II for the Royal Australian Air Force has made its first flight.

The aircraft, designated AU-1 by manufacturer Lockheed Martin and A35-001 by the RAAF, took off from Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, adjacent to Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth production facilities, at approximately 14:45 local time on September 29.

Lockheed Martin chief test pilot Al Norman was at the controls for the flight – callsign Lightning 31, with the jet successfully landing back at JRB Fort Worth at 16:30.

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AU-1 with its F-16D chaseplane. © Carl Richards
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AU-1 on its flrst flight. © Carl Richards

 

Comments

  1. Bill says

    Well done to all, hopefully the introduction to service is as smooth as it can be (the track record suggests shaky ground but fingers crossed!)

  2. Raymond says

    Lemon, they say. Clubbed like a baby seal they squeal. A flying blow torch they cry…

    Ahh, the satisfaction of milestones being reached and sales finalised just gets better every day now.

  3. Peter says

    How many years will they continue to be development aircrafts stationed in the US before AU finally can use them at home as fully specced fighters?

  4. Johnno says

    As an aircraft from LRIP 6 AN-1 has the next generation avionics hardware which was meant to run software batch 3I. As 3I is not jet available what is the aircraft actually running?

  5. adammudhen says

    Stealth, EW, AEW&C, strategic airlift and tanking. 2020 will see the RAAF bring online some amazing capabilities. Great to see.

  6. Geoff de Looze says

    This F-35 project only reaches any of its milestones because the old schedules keep being thrown out and “re-baslined”! Overall, this project represents terrible value for money. Far from being the saviour of the RAAF it could be the exact opposite since the purchasing and operating costs are so high. This will lead to a smaller fleet, and less flying hours. The specification was written for it to be a new definition of “affordable” – with capabilities traded down to control costs. Well, affordability has gone, but it is now expected to fill the shoes of the F-22, which it cannot do since it is a highly compromised design. It is slow, short ranged, has limited weapons carriage, and only frontal aspect radar stealth. But it has a giant, hot, infra-red beacon of an engine pointing our the rear. So those fancy electronic systems had all better work real well, and those missiles or bombs better have a pK of 1.0 – because if you don’t kill ALL of your enemies (and there could be a lot more of them!) you will be run down by much faster and better armed adversaries when you do turn away.

  7. Jim says

    Geoff de Looze says: It is slow, short ranged, has limited weapons carriage, and only frontal aspect radar stealth. But it has a giant, hot, infra-red beacon of an engine pointing our the rear

    Sorry, but I can’t let this go.

    Speed?
    While it is not Raptor fast, the F-35 is not slow. The published speeds for most fighters are their “clean” speeds. However, planes don’t go into war clean… except the F-22 and F-35.

    Short Ranged?
    The F-35A has a combat radius of 613nm on internal fuel. Compare that to the aircraft it is replacing.

    Has limited weapons carriage?
    If you compare it to an F-16, it has a similar weapons load. An F-16 is almost always going to have external fuel tanks, leaving only enough stations for 2 bombs of the 2000lbs variety. The F-16 CAN carry 4 AAMs in this config, vs the F-16’s two, but this is not a great difference considering the advantages of stealth make it less likely the F-35 would have to defend itself against an enemy fighter. Also, if you NEEDED more weapons (and if stealth wasn’t crucial), you could strap on many more missiles/bombs externally.

    Only frontal aspect radar stealth?
    Everything I have read suggests the plane is stealthy from all angles. You might be thinking of the F-15 Silent Eagle.

    Giant, hot, infra-red beacon of an engine pointing our the rear?
    Every plane has an engine, though the F-35 utilizes a combination of ceramic material coatings on the engine nozzle and heat sinks to reduce its IR signature. Again, you may be thinking of the F-15 Silent Eagle.

  8. australianaviation.com.au says

    Just on the tail flashes – even though 3SQN will be the RAAF’s first operational unit, that unit will be taking LRIP 10/11 jets from 2017 with the latest hardware and software as standard.

    These first two jets, 001 & 002 are LRIP 6 jets with earlier hardware and software loads, and will likely be assigned to 2OCU initially until they receive their tech refresh in a few years. In the meantime, even though they will be formally handed over to the RAAF later this year, they will technically be operated by the USAF as part of a larger training pool until the RAAF builds up sufficient capacity at Luke AFB.

    Cheers

    Andrew

  9. Dave says

    Are the hardware upgrades that will be required for the earlier jets ordered by the RAAF included in the purchase price or will there be an extra cost that the govt will have to pay to upgrade them later?

    I guess part of what I am asking is it possible that all of the RAAF’s 72 aircraft won’t end up having the same spec and some may be less capable?