A single RAAF F-35 soared over Sydney’s Harbour Bridge on Thursday to mark Australia Day.
The fifth-generation fighter jet flew from Circular Quay in the city up to North Head in Manly as onlookers gathered by the water.
It was joined by an MH-60R Seahawk that cruised along the beaches and through the harbour with the national flag underslung.
The Army’s Red Beret parachute team and the RAAF’s formation aerobatic display team – the Roulettes – brought the day to a close.
Across the country, other aircraft flying past included the Poseidon, Wedgetail and Hercules.
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Elsewhere, Navy destroyer HMAS Sydney was the centrepiece for the Salute to Australia at Sydney Cove, while the Australian Army’s 9th Regiment performed a 21-gun salute.
Commander Australian Fleet Rear Admiral Christopher Smith, who represented the RAN at the Salute to Australia, said Defence was proud to support this longstanding tradition.
“The Australian Defence Force plays an important role in the life of all Australians. Our troops, ships and aircraft help to shape the strategic environment and support a rules-based order,” Rear Admiral Smith said.
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 the end of 2023.
In September, the RAAF took delivery of four more, taking its current fleet to 54.
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).
Australia similarly placed a second order in September 2022 for 12 MH-60R Seahawk/Romeo helicopters in a deal tipped to be worth over $2.5 billion.
The new aircraft will build on the 24 acquired between 2013–2016 and would take the total size of the fleet to 36.