RAAF F-35 maintenance training making progress

The team charged with bringing home Australia’s F-35A Lightning II in December 2018 has reached a few important milestones, with 27 of the first cadre of maintenance crew completing technical training in May.

Squadron Leader Leigh Tinker, senior engineering officer for the F-35A Transition Team, said in a statement on September 12 that he now has 20 personnel stationed at Luke Air Force Base, after initial maintenance training was completed at Eglin Air Force Base.

A number of maintenance personnel have returned to Australia to prepare for the arrival of the aircraft at RAAF Base Williamtown.

Most of them will form the core of 3 Squadron when it stands up as the Royal Australian Air Force’s first F-35A squadron, with others posted to 2 Operational Conversion Unit.

Meanwhile, Wing Commander Darren Clare, who will become the commanding officer of 3 Squadron when the unit transitions from the Hornet, has completed his first flight in the F-35A.

“The jet feels very similar to a Hornet in most flight regimes, and it was exciting to take off in an airplane for the first time solo,” said WGCDR Clare, who is still undergoing operational conversion.

“The operations and maintenance teams made sure I flew an Australian aircraft for the flight, and I was also launched by an Aussie crew chief, which made it all the more special.

“I can see the momentum building, and our people will be ready when Air Force receives its next eight F-35As in 2018, as the transition hits full swing.”

Comments

  1. says

    How much has Willy grown to accommodate the 35 ( structure wise etc ) and security wise? With all the sensitive tech being on site , has it grown much? Cheers.

  2. John N says

    Has Williamtown Grown?

    Well it can’t physically grow beyond it’s boundaries, but yes the upgraded facilities for the introduction of the F-35A fleet is in progress, of course it is.

    As part of the overall budget for the introduction of the (so far approved, 72 F-35A), there is reportedly approx $1.5b allocated for upgrades at Williamtown, Tindal, etc. Are all those upgrades completed? Probably not, but they would be in progress.

    But upgraded facilities are not ‘unique’ to the F-35A, there were upgraded facilities put in place for the Super Hornets, Growlers, C-17A, KC-30A, etc, which is the norm, same for when the RAN introduced the MH-60R’s into service.

    Somehow I don’t think the Government, and RAAF, is so dumb that it will just park F-35A’s in old rusting tin sheds to let the general public walk in and have a poke around.

    Cheers,

    John N

  3. Craig says

    Two upgrades are an extension to the runway at Willy so the F35 won’t need AB on takeoff and new revetments for weapon loading etc.

  4. Law says

    G’day Paul,

    As mentioned by jasonp, the historical imagery function of google earth is immensely useful. It just so happens that last week I was looking into this and saved a few comparison shots from just one corner of the base that I could flick between. I’ve uploaded them here:

    http://toryume.ipage.com/public_files/williamtownupgrades/

    They range from November 2014 through May 2017 and if you download them to a folder you can see the progress across each shot easily. Using the same functionality you can see the runway has increased by 2000ft (at both ends) with new aprons at each end.

    Defence posted some photos of the above construction here:

    https://images.defence.gov.au/fotoweb/archives/5003-All%20Defence%20Imagery/?q=S20172126

    Upgrades to air bases are happening all over the show. Edinburgh is getting a runway extension, Amberley is getting a new C-17 hangar and apron etc.

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