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RAAF transfers F-35 training to Australia

16 January 2020
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The RAAF announced on 15 January that it was transferring pilot training for the F-35A from the United States to Australia. Source: US Air Force

Australia has transferred pilot and maintainer training for Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft from the United States to home territory.

The move, which took place in December 2019 and was announced by the US Air Force (USAF) on 15 January, saw the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) end its international training mission participation with the 61st Fighter Squadron (FS) and Aircraft Maintenance Unit (AMU) at Luke Air Force Base (AFB) in Arizona.

Having achieved the training goals it set out in 2014, Australia will now pass its future F-35A pilots and maintainers through the service's own 2 Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) at RAAF Base Williamtown in New South Wales.

"Luke AFB is the RAAF's F-35A delivery point, and Australian pilots will return several times a year to ferry the country's new fifth-generation fighters to Australia," said Wing Commander Jordon Sander, 61st Fighter Squadron Australian Senior National Representative and new commander of RAAF 2 OCU. The RAAF currently owns 20 F-35As and the ferrying missions will continue until it receives the last of its 72 aircraft in 2023.

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