The RAAF has taken delivery of two key training systems for its F-35A Lightning II project at RAAF base Williamtown.
A weapons load trainer and an ejection systems maintenance trainer were delivered to Williamtown by an Antonov An-124 on May 2, and will be installed at the new Integrated Training Centre which is nearing completion at a greenfield site on the northern side of the base.
When assembled, the weapon load trainer represents the underside of an F-35 hybrid of all three models, split down the aircraft centreline. One side will be a weapons bay of the F-35A and C models which share a common weapons bay and forward fuselage, while the other side will be the smaller F-35B weapons bay and wider forward fuselage which houses that model’s lift-fan.
The trainer also features wing station hardpoints, with one side having the common wing and main undercarriage of the F-35A and B models, while the other side is an F-35C undercarriage and wing which is of greater span and has a wing-fold mechanism.
Using specialised ground support equipment, weapons handler, or ‘gunnies’ will be able to practice loading and unloading weapons from the weapons bays around the various low-slung doors, undercarriage and open panels.
The ejection seat maintenance trainer allows maintenance personnel to remove and replace ejections seats in a controlled training environment.
“The equipment delivered today will provide Australia with its own F-35 pilot and maintainer training capability and will form part of the overall Australian F-35A Training System,” Defence Minister Marise Payne said in a statement.
“Importantly this equipment will enable our pilots and crews to train without having to remove aircraft from flight schedules.”
The first two of six mission simulators are scheduled to be delivered to Williamtown in late-2018, with flight and maintenance training scheduled to commence at Williamtown from mid-2019.