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Third RAAF F-35 makes first flight

written by australianaviation.com.au | December 4, 2017
A35-003 takes off from Fort Worth. (Carl Richards)

The Royal Australian Air Force’s third F-35A Lightning II, A35-003, has completed its first flight.

Photographer Carl Richards captured these images of A35-003 taking off on its first flight, from Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, on December 1.

The aircraft is due to be delivered to Luke Air Force Base, Arizona in early 2018 to be used for pilot and maintainer training, before being permanently relocated to Australia in 2020.

A35-003, known to its manufacturer Lockheed Martin as AU-3, had its RAAF markings, including its 3 Squadron tail flashes, applied in early November, the final phase of the aircraft’s production process.

A35-003 departs Fort Worth. (Carl Richards)

3 Squadron is due to become the first RAAF F-35 operational unit.

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Comments (10)

  • Craigy


    Flight global reported on Friday that the ‘go to war’ Block 3F software has successfully been tested releasing air to air and air to ground munitions with the weapons hitting the intended targets as required in the specs.

  • Tomcat Terry


    @ Craigy
    Great to hear.
    Lightning 2 will prove its worth one day and have a lot of nasayers eating humble pie.
    Unfortunately, it seems that time is drawning nearer with NK really pulling the US into a conflict, but the F 35 is ready along with the F 22.

  • John N


    Good to see AU-3 up and flying, certainly like the Squadron markings too.

    Over the next 12 months AU-3 and another seven airframes will be delivered (that’s an average of one every 6 weeks or so), I also understand that four of the next eight, for delivery during 2019, have also entered production.

    For 2020, 21 and 22, there will be 15 airframes delivered each year, that’s an average of one every three and a half weeks or so.

    Momentum is certainly building!


    John N

  • Craig


    Let’s hope so Tomcat, I can’t see the US spending money on a dog.

    I still think War with a NK can be avoided. Kim can’t have a death wish.

  • Paul


    Great to see and certainly looking the goods.!!

  • Paul


    Will be great to see it at Avalon again. Great work done by the Avalon team to bring it down. Keep up the outstanding work guys!

  • Daryl


    How many pilots and maintainers would be involved in this buildup program in the US.?

  • ESLowe


    Regarding criticism of this plane; I remember criticism of the FIII in the 1960s..”the “Flying (Sydney) Opera House. “It will never be put into service, It will never live up the claims made for it and the cost will escalate and escalate. I understand that it took 10 years of tinkering service to get it to the top of its game. I became one of the best planes ever to serve in the RAAF. Lucky perhaps because Menzies bought the plane over TSR2 on a virtual whim. I understand that Mountbatten rushed to Australia conning us out of buying TSR2. Why? My guess is ghat if we bought the plane – we wanted 40, it would have given the makers enough to start up production….if we bought 40, Canada might have bought 50 and the Kiwis 12….this might have forced the British to buy 250…. any thoughts?

  • Rob


    Awesome to see this aircraft in operation. Great to be a part of the Australian input to this great capability.

  • Daryl


    The Brits always blamed us for the death of TSR2.How many need to be produced to start up the assembly line.??

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