The RAAF’s first two Lockheed Martin F-35A Joint Strike Fighters have touched down on Australian soil for the first time, landing at RAAF Base Amberley on Monday afternoon ahead of their planned appearance at the Avalon Airshow from Friday.
The ABC’s defence reporter Andrew Greene has reported the aircraft landed at Amberley just after 5:00pm on Monday.
— Andrew Greene (@AndrewBGreene) February 27, 2017
The aircraft, A35-001 and A35-002, have been based at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona since late 2014 as part of the International Pilot Training Center there, and are due to return back there early next week after their Avalon appearance.
“The first two F-35A aircraft, AU-001 and AU-002 will arrive at the airshow on Friday 3 March, returning to the United States via RAAF Base Amberley allowing Australian pilots to continue their training,” a joint statement by Defence Minister Senator Marise Payne and Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne announcing the visit earlier this month reads.
“The visit is a significant contribution by the United States Air Force Training Command, and Lockheed Martin to facilitate the deployment from Luke Air Force Base during their training period.”
The two jets were due to be ferried to Amberley via Hawaii and Guam accompanied by a RAAF KC-30A tanker-transport, and they are due to be officially revealed at the Avalon Airshow on Friday.
The first F-35s to be based permanently in Australia are two aircraft due to arrive in late 2018 for Australian operational test and evaluation. Other Australia F-35s will be delivered to Luke for pilot training from 2018 before ferrying to Australia from 2020.