As the global F-35 Program surpasses 100,000 flying hours, the Australian F-35A Project is counting down with less than 500 days until the first two Australian F-35A aircraft arrive for permanent basing in Australia.
Head of CASG’s Joint Strike Fighter Division, AVM Leigh Gordon, said that while this milestone marks a significant level of maturity for the global Program, working together will be the key to successful project delivery for Australia.
“The Australian F-35A Project is far more than just delivery of 72 aircraft, it’s also about working with Air Force, industry and across Defence to introduce brand new systems needed to operate the F-35A,” said AVM Leigh Gordon.
“Examples of these new systems include the Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS); interfacing and being part of a F-35 Global Support Solution; and transitioning the workforce so we have a fifth-generation technical workforce ready to operate this impressive capability,” he said.
“While we are on track to achieve initial operating capability by 2020, there are still risks that will take coordination to address.
“The biggest challenge is integrating the F-35A fifth generation capability into Australia with the preparations at Williamtown a focus right now.
The first F-35A support facility, the Off Board Information Systems Centre, was officially opened last month which will support the Australian ALIS as part of almost AU$1 billion worth of work being undertaken to transform Williamtown ready to support F-35A operations.
The Air Force’s Director Air Combat Transition Office, Group Captain Glen Beck, said the F-35A capability will transform the way Air Force does business in almost every facet of operations.
“The new technology is very exciting, but getting our people ready to operate this large, global and technologically complex capability will be critical to our success,” said Group Captain Beck.
“While the facilities and aircraft are very tangible, the less tangible work like setting up a different workforce and systems to support fifth generation maintenance, logistics, training and operations is where our effort is focussed.
“Australia will be standing up squadrons in relatively quick succession between 2019 and 2023 and we need to be prepared to take on that challenge as we prepare our first ferry next year and integration beyond.
“We have recently finished a range of workshops involving Australian F-35A operators currently based in the US, to cover different scenarios to ensure we can operate the F-35A safely and effectively in the Australian environment,” he said.
Two Australian aircraft will be based at Williamtown from December next year and in early 2019 Air Force will start verifying and validating processes for operating the F-35A in the Australian context.
Fast Facts – Australian F-35A Project
--The Australian F-35 Project remains within budget and on schedule to meet Australia’s 2020 Initial Operating Capability requirement.
--Australia's first two F-35A aircraft were delivered to the international Pilot Training Centre (PTC) at Luke Air Force Base (AFB) in Arizona in December 2014 for pilot and maintainer training.
--Australia has four pilots qualified and instructing on the F-35A at Luke AFB.
--More than 30 Australians are working in the US as key members of the F-35 global strategic partnership across a range of disciplines.
--Australia’s next eight aircraft will be delivered in 2018. Six of these aircraft will initially operate as part of the pool of aircraft at the F-35 Pilot Training Centre at Luke Air Force Base. The remaining two aircraft will be ferried to Australia in December 2018 and be the first two F-35As to be based in Australia.
--Australian F-35A aircraft have flown a combined total of more than 1,000 hours.
--Australia completed its first deployment when its two F-35A aircraft deployed from the US to Australia for the Avalon Air Show in March 2017.
Fast Facts – Global F-35 Program
--The F-35 is now operating from twelve different locations including 10 United States bases and Italy and Israel.
--The F-35 has flown more than 100,000 flight hours.
--Italy and Israel are the first nations to operate the F-35 outside the United States from their respective nations.
--The United States Marine Corps and United States Air Force declared Initial Operating Capability in 2015 and 2016 respectively.
--To date, more than 400 F-35 pilots and 4,000 aircraft maintainers from six nations are trained including four Australian pilots.
--The arrival of F-35B aircraft at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan on 12 Jan 2017 represents the first permanently deployed United States F-35 capability.
--U.S. Government announces lowest priced F-35s in program history with the finalisation of the Production Lot 10 contract for 90 aircraft.