The Royal Australian Air Force has taken delivery of its 10th Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II fighter at Luke AFB in Arizona.
The milestone delivery is the second aircraft delivered direct to the RAAF’s 3SQN which is operating alongside USAF F-35A training units at Luke AFB. The RAAF’s other eight aircraft have to date operated under the USAF’s and Lockheed Martin’s training and maintenance systems, whereas aircraft nine and 10 were delivered under the RAAF’s own airworthiness authority and Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) maintenance system.
“Our tenth JSF was delivered to RAAF’s 3SQN at Luke AFB last week following a range of acceptance testing activities authorising delivery,” Defence Minister Christopher Pyne said in an October 22 release.
“Until now, all aircraft deliveries went to the F-35 International Pilot Training Centre, which required RAAF maintainers to perform ALIS-related tasks using the American system. Operating on Australian ALIS is an important achievement before the JSFs arrive in Australia in December this year.”
The RAAF’s first two F-35As are due to ferry to Australia in early to mid-December, after which they will conduct an Australian-specific verification and validation (V&V) period in preparation for 3SQN declaring an initial operational capability (IOC) in 2020.
The RAAF has 72 F-35As on order under Project AIR 6000 Phases 2A and 2B, and has a requirement for a further 30 aircraft under Phase 2C, a decision on which is due to be made by 2022.
ADBR will feature an in-depth series of F-35 articles in our November-December issue due out in late November, just prior to the 3SQN’s arrival.