The RAAF’s first two Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters will make their public debut at the Australian International Airshow at Avalon on Friday March 3, Defence Minister Senator Marise Payne and Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne announced on Tuesday.
“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,” the Ministers’ joint statement 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.”
It will be the F-35’s first appearance in the Southern Hemisphere, with the aircraft on display at Avalon alongside the RAAF’s first Boeing EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft. Two Growlers are expected to be on display at the airshow after their delivery to RAAF Base Amberley in late February.
“Together, the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter and the EA-18G Growler represent a potent and technologically advanced air combat and strike capability that is essential to our ability to defend Australia and our national interests,” Senator Payne said.
AU-1 and AU-2 have been based at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona since late 2014 as part of the International Pilot Training Center there, while no fewer than six centre fuselage sections for the RAAF’s next batch of eight F-35s are currently in production at Northrop Grumman’s F-35 Integrated Assembly Line (IAL) at Palmdale, California.
The first RAAF Growler, meanwhile, was rolled out in July 2015. All 12 RAAF Growlers were placed in storage at Boeing’s St Louis facility while RAAF 6SQN aircrews and maintainers trained on the type with the US Navy at Whidbey Island. All 12 jets will be delivered to RAAF Base Amberley this year.