RAAF logs 1,000th F-35A sortie

Personnel from the Royal Australian Air Force, United States Air Force and Lockheed Martin gather together to mark the completion of first 1000 sorties by Australian F-35As. *** Local Caption *** RAAF personnel at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, reach a flying milestone as the Australian F-35As complete their first 1000 sorties. The RAAF F-35A team are working together with the 56th Fighter Wing USAF and Lockheed Martin to develop Australia’s initial F-35A capability. Royal Australian Air Force pilots and maintenance personnel are fully embedded and integrated in USAF squadrons as they prepare to lead Australia’s transition to a fifth-generation Air Force.
RAAF, Lockheed Martin and USAF personnel at Luke AFB celebrate the RAAF’s 1000th F-35A sortie. (Defence)

The RAAF detachment of F-35A pilots, maintainers and support personnel based at Luke AFB in Arizona has recorded the 1,000th sortie of an Australian F-35A.

The milestone flight was recorded by one of the RAAF’s first two F-35A pilots, SQNLDR David Bell when he and 3SQN Commanding Officer WGCDR Darren Clare flew together on June 4.

The RAAF’s 3SQN operates six F-35As at the Integrated Training Center (ITC) where it is embedded with the USAF 56th Fighter Wing at Luke AFB. The unit is preparing to go through an airworthiness board in the next few months prior to bringing the first two F-35As back to Australia in December.

Wing Commander Darren Clare (right), Commanding Officer of No.3 Squadron, pauses to mark the moment when the Australian F-35As completed their first 1000 sorties. He stands with Squadron Leader David Bell, who flew the 1000th sortie in aircraft AU 2.  *** Local Caption *** RAAF personnel at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, reach a flying milestone as the Australian F-35As complete their first 1000 sorties. The RAAF F-35A team are working together with the 56th Fighter Wing USAF and Lockheed Martin to develop Australia’s initial F-35A capability. Royal Australian Air Force pilots and maintenance personnel are fully embedded and integrated in USAF squadrons as they prepare to lead Australia’s transition to a fifth-generation Air Force.
SQNLDR David Bell (L) and 3SQN CO WGCDR Darren Clare after the milestone flight. (Defence)