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RAAF F-35A to perform low-level aerobatics training in NSW

written by Hannah Dowling | November 1, 2021
F-35A Lightning II (A35-038) taxis into RAAF Base Williamtown for the first time after ferrying from the United States (Defence)

A Royal Australian Air Force F-35A Lightning II from No 2 Operational Conversion will conduct low-level aerobatics display practice over the coming days, Defence has revealed.

On Monday and Tuesday mornings, keen planespotters will be able to view the F-35A aircraft performing its display practice on the northern side of Port Stephens, in the Tea Gardens and Hawks Nest area.

The exact time of the flight has not been disclosed.

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Meanwhile, on Thursday, 4 November, a similar aerobatics display practice will be conducted overhead RAAF Base Williamtown.

Defence has confirmed this display will occur between 3pm and 4pm – pending weather and other considerations – for those hoping to catch a glimpse.

Fast jet aircraft from RAAF Base Williamtown often use the airspace around the northern edge of Port Stephens to conduct aerobatics and display practice, Defence said. All low-level flying activities will be conducted in line with safety and operations guidelines, it added.

The F-35A Lightning II is considered a ‘swiss army knife’ aircraft that defines itself as a fighter but can take on almost any mission conceivable.

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It can locate enemy forces or jam their radars to disrupt attacks; share detailed comms with air, ground, and sea assets; operate in stealth, even in unknown areas and fly at Mach 1.6, long-range, even with a full complement of weapons and fuel. In a nutshell, it’s the most technologically advanced piece of metal man has put in the air.

It comes in three variants: the F-35A – purchased by Australia – is a conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) version; the F-35B is a short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) variant, and the final F-35C is the carrier type (CV).

Over the coming years, Australia will purchase 72 as part of its $17 billion AIR 6000 Phase 2A/B program to replace the ageing F/A-18A/B Classic Hornets that have been in service with the RAAF since 1985.

The first F-35A was delivered in December 2018, and all 72 aircraft are expected to be cleared for combat by 2023. So far, 41 have landed on Australian soil and will be based at RAAF Base Williamtown and RAAF Base Tindal.

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