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First RAAF F-35 squadron CO named

written by australianaviation.com.au | July 11, 2016
Wing Commander Darren Clare (left) and Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Leo Davies, AO, CSC with the F-35A during the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford.
WGCDR Darren Clare (left) and Chief of Air Force AIRMSHL Leo Davies with the F-35 at RIAT. (Defence)

Australia’s first commanding officer of an F-35A Lightning II squadron has seen the F-35 up close for the first time at the Royal International Air Tattoo.

Wing Commander Darren Clare, who is currently posted to the UK to complete the Advanced Command and Staff Course, said that he is looking forward to commencing his appointment as commanding officer of 3 Squadron next year.

“I am incredibly proud and humbled to be selected to lead Number 3 Squadron when it receives our first F-35A into Australian service,” he said. “It is a big responsibility but one that I am excited to have.”

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Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Leo Davies commented: “The aircraft will bring a new capability to the Royal Australian Air Force, and Darren will have a lot of responsibility to develop the tactics, techniques and procedures for the F-35A to the Australian context and ensure the F-35A is integrated into our fleet through Plan Jericho.”

A KC-30A Multi Role Tanker Transport from 33 Squadron visited the Royal International Air Tattoo, marking Air Force’s first appearance at the Air Tattoo since 2006. The KC-30 has also visited air-to-air refuelling bases in Italy and France.

No. 33 Squadron's KC-30A at the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford.

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15 Comments

  • Toby

    says:

    I hope i don’t sound stupid for saying this. But dose anyone know when the F-35 Will be in Service with No.3 Squadron.

  • ULISES

    says:

    WELCOME AT HOME F-35A.

  • Sean

    says:

    Stupid would be saying “when” probably a better question is IF .

  • Harry

    says:

    I thought I heard some commentator on here saying it wouldn’t be fully stocked/equiped and operational until 2023-2025. We will get them earlier than that, around 2018-2021 but they won’t be ready as a unit for a few more years after, depending on how everything goes. I could be wrong on that.

  • Fabian

    says:

    I am pretty sure from 2018 more f-35a will come in service. This aircraft is going to be great for Australia, most of its awesome stuff is kept classified but it is ment to be flying with other dog fighter and multi-role aircraft, so I don’t know why everyone is complaining about how much of a lemon it is. With fa/18e purchases the RAAF will be one of the top noch best air forces in terms of tactics and that stuff.

  • Alan

    says:

    Toby, yes thats a stupid question. Now stop asking questions and keep paying your taxes …
    signed
    The Government

  • Jason

    says:

    3 Squadron will bring some jets home in 2018 for a local OT&E, and the rest of the unit will be here in 2019 and will be IOC in 2020. After that, 2OCU, 77 Squadron and 75 Squadron will follow at yearly intervals, with FOC planned for 2024.

  • Samual

    says:

    The delivery schedule is 8 aircraft in 2018, another 8 in 2019 and the 15 aircraft in 2020, 2021 and 2022 with the final 9 being delivered in 2023.

    That could see IOC for squadron 3 around 2020.

  • John Jackman

    says:

    From JohnJ
    To all the F35 knockers. Back in the 1960’s and early 1970’s they said exactly the same thing about the F111 – what a lemon it was going to be and the cost was exorbitant? The F111 had more than it’s share of development problems and time delays but history has proven the doubters wrong as the F111 turned out to be great value for money and a superb weapon of war that served Australia well for over 30 years.

    A suggested read would be ” From Controversy to Cutting Edge” by Mark Lax.

  • Harry

    says:

    John J, What are you on about? What knockers? Also the F-111, great plane that it became – for us anyway, has nothing to do with the F-35 development. It can still be knocked as expensive and late and be a good plane – eventually. Please do remember that cost and development issues are very important for RISK MANAGEMENT and PLANNING. The F-111 was dropped by the USN remember? And the F-35, if it wasn’t for the international partners, could have been axed similarly (except there was no other plane development – hence ‘too big to fail’ or maybe it should’ve been ‘too important to not keep chucking money at it’. But finally the end of development looks soon! And its probably going to be a great plane.

    But the one caveat I would add is that we should, like the americans are planning, invest in an air superiority fighter/missile truck to compliment the F-35. Australia always had at least two frontline fighters to cover the very different roles that Air-power signifies. (The UK, Japan, France and many other nations usually retain two or even three airframes to maximise effect and retain advantageous capability in respect to the various air-power ‘missions’.) The F-35SE for example could be a welcome air superiority/dog-fighter fighter, a long range strike platform and replace the role of the F-111 for low level strike and maritime strike and recon. It would be handy in ‘chucking’ missiles over the horizon for the F-35 to ‘capture’ and ‘direct’ onto enemy targets! If only the F-22 was cheap and around, alas we might have to settle for the F-15SE additionally.

    (Australia also used to have 130+ frontline fighters. Now we have 70 F-35s – 2 will be based in the US? How does that make sense when the region is slowly going turning risky and unpredictable!?)

  • Jason

    says:

    F-35SE? Do you know something we don’t Harry? Or did you mean the F-15SE?

    The F-15SE is not operated by the US and is too different to the 25+ year old F-15E, and therefore would never be considered by Australia. If you think the F-35 is expensive, the cost of an Australianised F-15SE without the support of a US parent service would be eye-watering!

  • Harry

    says:

    Oh yeah Jason cheers for that, yes indeed the F-15E, or even F-15SE if they ever made it…

    You have a point re: life sustainment costs etc. The F-111s where super expensive for us to maintain in the end and the US still used a few of them at the time. A better option would be the new builds of the F-15E which are likely to be sustained for at least two or more decades after the production runs finish in 2018/2019.

  • Jason

    says:

    The trouble is, the USAF has not built an F-15E for 20+ years, so any chance of commonality with their fleet is long gone. There is little advantage in having a common fleet with Israel (F-15I), Singapore (F-15SG), ROK (F-15K) or Saudi (F-15S), as each of these operators has a comparatively small fleet and numerous bespoke systems, and are unlikely to share maintenance & sustainment expenses with us.

    The USAF retired its F-111Fs and EF-111s in the 1990s, but the reason our F-111s became “super expensive” was because we went out on our own with the AUP upgrade and changed key avionics, weapons systems, comms etc. So apart from airframes and some engine components, the systems commonality with USAF F-111s, even those baking in the boneyard, was gone. There was also the issue of our F-111s having limited EW and no data links, and the fact they were 40+ year old airframes.

    This would be the same with any new build F-15s, regardless of how long the USAF keeps its F-15Es. Plus it’s difficult to ascertain the flyaway cost of modern F-15s due to the operators not having the budget transparency (and scrutiny) of other countries, but I would bet they are much more expensive than US$100m each.

    What the F-35 (and even the Super Hornet) lack in performance compared to the F-15, they more than make up for in much lower RCSs, as well as costs savings from lower acquisition costs, common sustainment systems and clearly marked growth paths with US parent services.

  • Harry

    says:

    Jason nice points. And the history lesson; but still love the pig of course. Of course you know that Australia would probably modify the F-15 just like all these other countries modify the F-15 for there own purposes, just like we did with the F-111 (The most credible F-15E estimate Ive seen is just above $120 million, but an Australian FMS deal would likely be more cost attractive than that figure). Its seems to be quite common for Defence to modify Off-the-Shelf soured equipment, i.e. the ‘Australianization’ of said equipment. (interestingly the USAF have been exploring getting more F-15Es, but thats neither here nor there at the moment.)

    Anyway, I guess my point that your missing – its not so much the system, as much as a fan I am of the F-15 – is that Australia needs to stop running the air force on the cheap (yes I know F-35s aren’t cheap). What I mean is that Australia has a strategic need for an air-superiority fighter, maritime strike fighter, long-range and low level strike fighter as well as a multirole fighter that can do CAS. And the F-35, as good as it could be, is not an air-superiority fighter nor a long-range strike fighter due to its limitations. It can’t fly fast enough to intercept targets at extreme distances like others can. And it can’t haul a massive loud-out at low levels doing speeds as others can. And I still see those capabilities as relevant despite the seeming success of the F-35s in a new ‘modern way’ of air power. Thus I see Australia benefitting from two airframes. And if that means Australia operating an F-15E thats not ‘common’ with the USAF, well so be it. But it could easily be a Eurofighter or whatever. Although the next-gen jammer will be designed for the F-15. Nevertheless the Growlers will be great in partnership with the F-35 but they don’t do air-superiority or long-range low level strike either.

    Those other countries you mention seem to do it pretty well too. They use multiple platforms because different tools do different jobs. But somehow we think we should collapse all capability into one cost-efficient system. Like somehow the accountants won an argument over strategic needs using phrases like “lower acquisition costs, common sustainment systems and clearly marked growth paths”. In the end it is a trade off between spending more on our air power – the most important element in actual physical combat – and all the other things a society expects and accepts. I also believe its better to have two frontline airframes purely for risk management. Sure its a big ask but I see it as relevant.

    But in the end the only reason I mention the F-15 is because the USAF plans to use the F-15 exactly as I described above: a ‘missile truck’ hauling a variety of long range missiles which will be, if you like, ‘sling-shot’ from a distance to be ‘captured’ by F-35s that have penetrated contested airspace, where the opponents simple weight of numbers creates a distinct strategic/tactical disadvantage for even highly technologically superior but small air forces. This isn’t some thought bubble, the US specifically intends to use the F-15s in this way in conjunction with F-22s and F-35s. I am not saying we should buy this platform in huge numbers as a replacement for the F-35. Just pointing out that the F-35 was according to many USAF generals ‘never supposed to go it alone’ in real world combat, said ever since the F-35s limitations in certain ‘missions’ became more and more recognisable.

  • Fabian

    says:

    It would be cool to see the fa-18 e in the RAAF, combined with the f-35.

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