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Crosswinds blamed for cancelling F-35 flypast for Queen

written by Adam Thorn | September 23, 2022

One of Australia’s four new F-35s arrives at RAAF Base Williamtown. (CPL Craig Barrett, Defence)

The flypast of six F-35s over Canberra to mark the death of the Queen was cancelled because of crosswinds at RAAF Base Williamtown.

Defence said in a statement that the bad weather would have made “launch or landing unsafe”.

It came as Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Governor-General David Hurley and Opposition Leader Peter Dutton all attended the national memorial service at Parliament House to pay their respects to Her Majesty.

“All low-level flying activities are conducted within strict safety and operational guidelines, and flying is subject to change, including short notice cancellation, due to variables such as air traffic control requirements, weather, and operational availability,” Defence said.

The weather also affected commercial aviation, with over 40 flights cancelled at Sydney Airport alone and more disruption expected nationwide today.


The F-35 is the country’s newest fighter, purchased 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 buy 72 as part of the $17 billion AIR 6000 Phase 2A/B program, with all expected to be fully operational by 2023.

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).

The RAAF took delivery of four more in the last week, taking its current fleet to 54. The fighter jets flew from Luke Air Force Base, Arizona with the aid of a KC-30A refuelling aircraft.

Despite the poor weather which grounded their operations this week, the aircraft were able to take part in Exercise Pitch Black last month for the very first time.

The three-week training program in the Northern Territory was conducted at Bases Darwin and Tindal, with Base Amberley in Queensland also included. It included counterparts from 15 countries.

“Exercise Pitch Black is the largest Australian-based international exercise 81 Wing has participated in since transitioning to the F-35A and we’re excited by the opportunity to integrate the jet’s advanced capabilities with so many of our international partners,” Commanding Officer of No. 3 Squadron, Wing Commander Adrian Kiely said in August.

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Comments (5)

  • David


    Let’s hope the weather is nice if ever we need to go to war

  • Rob


    Let’s all hope that our “vast Northern Neighbour” doesn’t choose to invade us on a day
    when there are cross-winds at RAAF Williamtown. I’m sure they’ve love to launch their
    land-attack missiles at our “can’t launch” F-35’s on the ground at Williamtown.
    I note with interest that the U.S. Navy frequently launch Super Hornets & Growlers from
    their carriers at sea in conditions far from ideal – AND retrieve them!!

  • chris


    Good operational decision!

  • Rocket


    Can’t fly in crosswinds, can’t fly in bad weather or rain allegedly, plagued with problems, software issues. F-111; solid bomb truck that flew nearly twice as fast, carried 2+ x the load, twice as far and could fly low to the sea level or low on land using TFR so really didn’t need stealth or a tanker.

    Remind me again how we’ve advanced?? We should have upgraded the F-111s, there were 500 surplus USAF ones in the desert for goodness sake with low ours many and a hundred years worth of wing carry-through box spares.

    Anyone who thinks that is daft, explain to me why one of our closest neighbours, Singapore, now has a more lethal air defence than we do with the F-15SE/SG – the only credible replacement for the F-111 which we didn’t even look at.

    Sure, get 50 of these F-35 toys but we need the ability to hit hard. The only real option now if we’re now in the global nuclear submarine type defence/offence game is the B21 if the yanks will sell it to us, which is seeming more likely – but they will cost something like 60 billion for 12. All this crap about maintenance costs on the F-111, you can do a lot of maintenance for $60bn.

  • Kim Il Sung IX


    ~$100m a pop and they get turned off by bad weather? Hope there’s no bad weather in Russia or China?

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