The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) is showcasing the full range of its fixed- and rotary-winged capabilities at the Avalon Airshow running from 28 February to 5 March.
All of its modern types will feature in the static display of the Australian International Airshow and Aerospace and Defence Exposition 2017, with all but the newly delivered Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime multi-mission aircraft (MMA) flying as well. As noted by the organisers, there will be 14 fast jets at the event, as well as a host of airlifters, airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) platforms, and other aircraft.
As noted by Jane's World Air Forces, the RAAF has been engaged in a steady programme of modernisation since 2006. Core assets and procurement initiatives include the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter and Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet combat aircraft; the Boeing EA-18G Growler electronic attack (EA) aircraft; the Alenia Aermacchi C-27J Spartan, Lockheed Martin C-130J-30 Hercules, and Boeing C-17A Globemaster III airlifters; the Airbus Defence and Space KC-30 multi-role tanker/transport (MRTT); the Boeing E-7A Wedgetail AEW&C platform; and the Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime MMA.
In terms of the F-35, Australia has a requirement for 100 aircraft, of which the order of 72 has so far been announced. Production of the first two Australian F-35As began in 2011, with those jets being delivered to Luke Air Force Base in Arizona in December 2014. These are now being used for pilot and maintainer training. In November 2014, the US Department of Defense assigned Australia with F-35 heavy engine maintenance, repair, overhaul, and upgrade (MRO&U) for the Asia Pacific region and heavy airframe MRO&U for the Southern Pacific. Sustainment planning is now under way for the arrival of the first aircraft into Australia in 2018.
Once in service, the F-35 will augment the 24 Super Hornets that the RAAF signed for in 2007 to replace its ageing fleet of General Dynamics F-111 strike aircraft.
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