The RAAF has deployed a squadron of F-35A Lightning II fighters to Darwin for the first time to participate in Exercise Arnhem Thunder 2021.
To be conducted over the Northern Territory’s vast Delamere and Bradshaw Ranges south of Darwin from May 12 to June 15, Arnhem Thunder is the RAAF’s largest domestic exercise for the year.
Apart from the F-35As of 3SQN, other participants include F/A-18F Super Hornets, F/A-18A/B Hornets, EA-18G Growlers, Hawk 127s, E-7A Wedgetails, and the No 114 Control and Reporting Unit (CRU) with a TPS-77 radar.
Also participating are transport and support aircraft including C-17As, C-130Js, and C-27Js, while a brace of PC-21s from 4SQN have been in the Northern Territory following their Black Dagger Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) graduation exercise which concluded on May 14.
Arnhem Thunder marks the first squadron-level deployment of the F-35A to the Northern territory, after Exercise Pitch Black 202 was cancelled due to COVID restrictions.