The F-35 headlined the Central Coast Airshow over the weekend at Warnervale Airport in NSW.
Australian Aviation was there to chat to the key players for the event that also featured a display by the RAAF Roulettes alongside warbirds such as the Mustang, Spitfire, Kittyhawk, Warraway, Boomerang and Trojan.
You can watch footage of the fifth-generation fighter flying below, and subscribers can also listen to our interview with aerobatics pilot Paul Bennet.
Bennet tours the country performing in his Wolf Pitts aircraft, the highest performing aerobatic biplane in the world that flies from ground level up to 3,500 feet.
The F-35, meanwhile is the country’s newest fighter, bought to replace the RAAF’s F/A-18A/B Classic Hornets that were in service since 1985 and retired in late 2021.
Over the coming years, Australia will purchase 72 as part of the $17 billion AIR 6000 Phase 2A/B program, with all expected to be fully operational by 2023.
The RAAF’s fleet now includes 48, with another four arriving in March. Thus far, the fighters have clocked over 15,000 flight hours and have already achieved initial operational capability, making it combat-ready.
The aircraft comes in three variants: the F-35A – purchased by Australia – is a conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) version; the F-35B is a short take-off/vertical landing (STOVL) variant, and the final F-35C is the carrier type (CV).
In June 2021, Australian Aviation reported how two F-35s took to the skies with a full complement of weapons for the first time.
The landmark moment came as the pair were taking part in Exercise Arnhem Thunder 21 from RAAF Base Darwin.
In addition to their internal payload, the F-35s departed with laser-guided GBU-12 bombs attached to their under-wing pylons.
The bombs were dropped on ground-based targets at the Delamere Air Weapons Range, located about 120 kilometres south of Katherine.