USAF F-22s arrive in Australia for joint training exercises with the RAAF

F-22s taxi in after landing at a wet RAAF Base Tindal on Friday. (Defence)

Twelve United States Air Force (USAF) F-22 Raptors have deployed to Tindal, Northern Territory for joint training exercises with the RAAF as part of the first Enhanced Air Cooperation (EAC) initiative.

The 12 jets are from the 90th Fighter Squadron from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, and arrived at a wet RAAF Base Tindal on Friday.

“The F-22s will conduct integrated training activities with the Royal Australian Air Force’s 75 Squadron F/A-18A/B Hornets along with ground assets and personnel,” Minister for Defence Senator Marise Payne said on Friday.

“The EAC will build on a range of air exercises and training activities already undertaken between Australia and the United States.”

It is the largest and longest rotation of ‘fifth-generation’ fighters to Australia to date.

“The rotation of the aircraft is designed to modernise and strengthen our already firm mil-to-mil relationship, facilitate interoperability, exercise combined capabilities and increase regional engagement,” a US Pacific Air Forces statement reads.

“While at RAAF Base Tindal, the F-22 detachment, alongside their RAAF counterparts, will provide credible forces able to support a wide range of exercises or training activities.”

The visiting USAF F-22 and RAAF F/A-18A/B Hornets would also deploy to Townsville for “short training visits”.

The F-22 is also due to be on public display at the Avalon Airshow, to be held from February 28 to March 5.

The EAC is part of the US-Australia Force Posture Initiative that was signed by the two nations in 2014 and came into effect the following year.

The agreement allowed US forces to be in Australia for activities such as “security operation exercises, joint and combined training exercises, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief as agreed with Australia”, the Department of Defence website states.

“The EAC aims to strengthen bilateral collaboration and interoperability with the United States,” Minister Payne said.

“While EAC will see an increase in training, it will be on a short-term rotational basis using Australian facilities.”

There have been five rotations of US Marine Corps personnel to Darwin since the Force Posture Initiative was signed. A sixth rotation is due to arrive in April, Payne said.

F-22s taxi in after landing at a wet RAAF Base Tindal on Friday. (Defence)
An F-22 taxis in after landing at a wet RAAF Base Tindal on Friday. (USAF)

Comments

  1. John N says

    Now if only we could say to our US friends:

    “Mate, you really don’t want to fly all the way back to Alaska in a tiny cramped cockpit do you? We will be happy to give you all a bunch of first class seats on a Qantas A380 (stopover in Hawaii?), so leave your 12 F-22’s here, we’ll look after them, no problem!! And by the way, don’t worry about the ‘Kangaroo’ that our ground crews are currently painting on them!!”

    Good Idea? Hmmm….. somehow I don’t that will work….

    Cheers,

    John N

    PS, or maybe take them for a swim in a nearby ‘crocodile’ free river (cough, choke!), and tell them it’s more than safe to pitch their tents for their overnight stay right on the edge of the river too (again, cough, choke!).

  2. Tony Watson says

    The F22 is the plane Australia should be buying instead of the dud F35, but the yanks know it is superior to anything else around and have refused to sell it to us.

  3. Raymond says

    … or maybe they could all defect with their 22’s from freezing cold Alaska to a better life and the warmer climes of Australia…

    Alternatively, perhaps Trump will allow their sale to us now…

  4. Bob says

    That’s The Right kind of Aircraft for RAAF to buy , not the F-35 !

    If the Americans want us to help them in their wars; Time to waiver the Clarence, and give RAAF a real airplane, “The Roo 22”

  5. PAUL says

    Wonder if they have fixed the OBOGS issue yet? Apparently there was a reason why they stopped production after less than 200 units. Some of the new Net-centric capabilities integrated into the F35 couldn’t be retrofitted to the Raptor. Time will tell if Trump gives more funding & more F22’s are built, but with that level of technology obsolete already from when the ATF program was underway in the 90’s they may put the money into the new F/A-XX program. I think the US F35’s will have the ability to Network with X45 UCAVs- UAV’s & other assests to engage targets, whereas Raptor cant.

  6. Tomcat Terry says

    Well… we ain’t going to get 22’s so it’s make best use of the 35’s until the 6 gen fighters in the 2030’s come into service.
    We’ll be nice to our neighbours until then 😉

  7. Bill says

    Production of the F-22 ceased a number of years ago and the US Congress banned the Raptor from foreign sales. Have you all been visiting the Air Power Aus website or something?

  8. John N says

    Bill,

    I think you find most of the comments about the F-22’s being here in the NT is done with humour, and a bit ‘tongue in cheek’, ok?

    And yes of course there are the odd serious ones too (APA readers? Yes probably!!)

    And what you say is true (and some still don’t get it), the F-22 is not only out of production, but was also never released for export outside of the US too.

    And it has been interesting in the past to read some of the comments of the RAAF itself, yes the F-22 great air dominance aircraft, but not the ‘multi-role’ aircraft that Australia required, even if had been available!

    Cheers,

    John N

  9. PAUL says

    Don’t think the US have deployed it to Iraq or Afghanistan yet for those reasons, No Air Dominance requirement.

  10. IWS says

    Is there something about the colour of the cockpit canopy that is “new” or revolutionary that is F22 specific ? I don’t recall seeing anything like this before and from the photos it does not appear to reflection.

  11. John N says

    IWS,

    This might help: “The F22 Raptor canopy … comprises two sheets of polycarbonate, sandwiched between two layers of optical glass, fusion bonded in an autoclave and drape formed over a canopy blank … A metallic coating of indium-tin-oxide (ITO) is added to the canopy to reflect the radar waves, giving it a golden tint.”

    I’ve also see reports that there is also ‘gold’ in the coating too, but it is probably the ITO.

    Cheers,

    John N

  12. Raymond says

    Speaking about cockpit canopies, is anyone able to enlighten me as to why the F-35 doesn’t share the single-piece bubble style canopy (that is meant to offer superb visibility) that the F-16 and F-22 have?

  13. PAUL says

    Good to know Raymond. Also on the canopy the French Rafale uses a form of Gold plating to aid stealth so probably ito also, & pretty sure ive seen F16’s in Europe wearing similar.?

  14. PAUL says

    The US are sending F16’s down to Ohakea for the RNZAF 80th Anniversary Air Tattoo & Singapore are sending a few F15SG’s ,before they all head up to Avalon, would be great to see the F22 there,.. as it would show the NZ public how far behind the 8 ball the NZDF is without current Fast Air assets. Will certainly become obvious when an RAAF F35 visits however we are yet to see a Super Hornet apart from their delivery stopover a few years back.

  15. DAVID says

    Its Quite Funny How they wont sell the F22’s to us yet we are yhe ones who Trained the Americans on How to Fly the raptors so we already know its capabilities are lol P.S The F22 Trainer is an Australian RAAF Pilot

  16. Raymond says

    Thanks Paul. I realise the F-35 has DAS SA, however unobstructed Mark I eyeball vision is always beneficial. I still wonder why the F-35 doesn’t get what the F-16 and F-22 did…

  17. Raymond says

    DAVID, are you able to provide any evidence that Australians trained the Americans on how to fly the F-22 Raptor? There have been RAAF pilots on exchange with USAF F-22 squadrons, however training *them* this does not make. Certainly they train together, build relationships and exchange ideas.

    There is also a difference between knowing of a capability and actually *possessing* that capability ourselves. Having said that, the RAAF will shortly induct a 5th gen fighter, the F-35 not the F-22… which is partly the benefit of the pilot exchange – learning about 5th gen capability and smoothing their introduction into service.

  18. says

    Raymond,I forgot his name but he flew the raptor to Avalon in 2011.He was an FCI in the RAAF on exchange in Alaska.He then became a Raptor instructor,and teach the American newbies coming through.There are plenty of Raptor instructors.Thats right,his name is Mat Harper from 3 Sqn

  19. Rocket says

    The proposed FB-22 would have been the ideal aircraft for the RAAF and an ACTUAL F-111C/G replacement (not a ‘pretend’ one). Unfortunately though, the penny will never drop with Australia. The United States are supposedly our closest ally and we their most trusted ally, except when it comes to sharing defense technology. They wouldn’t even give us the technology for stealthy tiles on submarines, we had to develop our own for the Collins Class. Fair-weather friends is what they are – I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for them to assist us under ANZUS if we got into a conflict with Indonesia either, I bet they would be busy weighing up which country advantaged them the most.

  20. says

    Rocket,oh dear me!! The FB-22 was never going to make it anyway.America has always and will be always by our side.We wouldn’t need America anyway with Indonesia.You are in another world mate.

  21. Fabian says

    So annoying how the fact that the US constantly hides technology from us and yet we give the US so much help, fighting in every war along side the United States. But yet the US can’t even give us 50 or less f-22s to help spread Air dominance across our part of the region. That’s the reason why 1 squadron of f-22s is in the NT, not 2 large and packet squadrons of f-22s that belong to Australia that will fight along side Australian f-35s and usaf f-22s and f-35s any time anywhere.

  22. says

    Fabian,the Americans give us a lot of tech.The 22s are here to help us into the 5th gen world.They give us satellite tech help ,and believe it or not,there is a lot of high tech in the Rhino ,Wedgies,Poseidon,and Tritons and the list goes on.

  23. Rocket says

    Paul, it is a given that the only country that could feasibly defeat and occupy Australia is the United States and I accept that’s not going to happen. As for Indonesia, of course, I’m not an idiot, I know we are good friends with Indonesia and we would never go to war with them realistically. In fact, in a strategic sense, Australia’s geography and remoteness makes us a pretty safe place as the amount of materiel and losses it would take to take us on is beyond everyone except maybe the USA – and I’m talking conventional – anyone who wanted to take over Australia is not going to do it with nuclear weapons as what’s the point if you destroy so much of it it becomes inhospitable – but even they would have to employ near their entire complement of forces. Just not going to happen. Which is why we shouldn’t remain too close to them. With this guy in the Oval Office now they are too unpredictable. The only credible threats we require solid ability to go and drop a crapload of munitions on a potential enemy before they launch an attack (that was the F-111) and weather you think the FB-22 was going to happen or not, it was the only thing with the range and payload to match, plus 5th gen. and the ability to actually defend the continent which you can use anything for… All I will say about your adulation of the F-35 is that it is not fast and it can’t do anything without tanker support… so, if we were involved in a close neighborhood engagement, you’d better hope they get ALL of the enemy aircraft on the way in because even a SU-27 or SU-35 can catch up to and destroy an F-35 on the way out… they are NOT stealthy all round like the F-22 but rather are lit up like a X-mas tree from behind and they are slow as a wet week, barely Mk 1.6, they are even slower than the F-18F (Mach 1.8). This is slower than the SU-35, Mach 2.3, the F-111 Mach 2.5 and the F-15SE at Mach 2.6-2.7… like I said, the F-35 might conform to what you think about getting in undetected and destroying assets but like I said, they’d better get EVERYTHING because nearly everything else a generation behind CAN and WILL outrun them on the way out and they will be easy to spot. Why is the F-111C/G so good despite not being 5th Gen??? Low level penetration – fast and below radar… some vulnerability too… anyway, if what the ‘experts’ on here say is important and range isn’t then why aren’t we just going for 300 F-16s??? It’s a bedrock principle of DEFENSE as opposed to offense (and in our case, it’s arguable only defense is necessary if we keep out of other’s wars) that numbers will ALWAYS win the day. All we need is enough to make someone think twice about attacking us to the point it’s not worth it. If you think the region wasn’t relieved when the F-111 was retired then you’re the one in another world… this thing was bombed up and fuelled up at Tindal and the Indonesians backed off in East Timor because of that fact alone. Every defense expert in the world will tell you when it was still flying in 2010 and even now, the F-111 was incontestable in it’s class from a pure payload and range capability. There were plenty of options for updating them and keeping them as a core ‘bomb truck’ fleet.

  24. says

    Fabian,why rely solely on the F-22? The US has a right to hold or hide their tech.Force multipliers,and enablers and a provide projection.If the F-35 is as good as they say,we will be a small but very potent force.

  25. John N says

    Rocket,

    Obviously you are a big fan of the F-111 (yes so was I), but, it’s gone, dead and buried (literally too!).

    Once the primary user, eg the USAF, stopped using them in the late 1990’s, then it became so much harder for us to continue to maintain such a small fleet, I could go on about all the reasons why, but no point, again, they are gone.

    And despite their ‘long range’ without tankers, there are certainly ‘questions’ over their survivability in the modern environment.

    And again, we don’t have a long range strike aircraft anymore, today only a ‘few’ nations do, simple fact, we are never going to possess B-52, B-1, B-2 or the eventual B-21, and there is nothing on the drawing board too that sits between the F’s at one end and the B’s at the other end.

    But if we look at ‘today’ we do have the ability to do long range strike, yes really we do!

    Operation Okra for example, we’ve had RAAF Hornets (Classic and Super) operating from Al Minhad AB, in Dubai, flying into Northern Iraq and Syria and performing strike missions since August 2014.

    Dubai to Northern Iraq and Syria, is a bit under 2000km ‘one way’, then time on station, deliver the ordinance, and then fly the approx. 2000km back to Al Minhad, and yes supported by the KC-30A fleet, an approx. 4000km round trip.

    So bring that capability back to ‘our’ part of the world, a Classic Hornet, equipped with JASSM (which has a reported range of 370+km), has the ability to strike at targets at a range of 2300-2400km from base, and again with KC-30A tanker support.

    The F-111C’s had a ‘reported’ combat ‘radius’ (yes radius not ferry range) of approx. 2200km, add to that they were equipped in their final years with the AGM-142 Have Nap, which had a reported range of ‘less’ than 100km.

    When you look at both those examples above, both the Classic Hornet (JASSM and tanker), F-111C (AGM-142 and no tanker), the ability to ‘deliver’ a precision guided weapon from base to the target is approx. 2300-2400km.

    My figures above are not ‘exact’ science, ok? But it does show that a shorter ranged aircraft, with a long range strike weapon and with tanker support can strike long distances.

    So lets roll forward to the mid 2020’s, by this time the Classics will be out of service, we will have 72 F-35A’s (with Block 4 software) and 24 F/A-18F’s (and yes I’m not including Growler).

    Both of those aircraft, with tanker support, will be able to fly that approx. 2000km from base, but there is also the ‘potential’, if JASSM-ER (1000+km range) is procured, for the RAAF’s aircraft being able to strike at targets that are approx. 3000km from base.

    And of course eventually, the plan is to equip the AWD’s, Future Frigates (and Collins submarine replacements), with a TLAM 1600km capability too.

    And if its long range maritime strike, then yes the current aircraft (tanker supported) and with Harpoon also have a long range capability, tomorrow it will be either JSM or LRASM, with greater range for example.

    Anyway, just my opinion of course too!

    Cheers,

    John N

  26. terry ovens says

    Hay,,You blokes, your all getting carried away from the hole point. Stop talking about the past.We were talking about how we are going to pinch the Raptors from the yanks. We need a plan. Where is the nearest pub? How many tow trucks can we get, before they sober up, & were can we hide them before the rain stops