skip to main content

RAAF receives last batch of F-35A Joint Strike Fighters for 2021

One of the three new F-35A Lightning II aircraft that arrived at RAAF Base Williamtown on 18 November, bringing the total number of F-35s in the country to 44. (Australian Department of Defence)

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has received the last three new Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters scheduled for delivery in 2021, bringing the in-country total to 44.

The aircraft, which arrived at RAAF Base Williamtown near Sydney on 18 November, have been accepted by No 77 Squadron after completing a journey from Eglin Air Force Base (AFB) in the United States as part of ‘Exercise Lightning Ferry 21-4', the Australian Department of Defence (DoD) announced on 23 November.

No 77 Squadron Wing Commander Tim Ireland said that, before the ferry flight, the new fighter aircraft took part in an operational test activity, known as Exercise Lightning Spear 21, at Eglin AFB from 1 to 5 November, which aimed to verify weapons integration. “The consecutive activities of Lightning Spear and Lightning Ferry demonstrate No 77 Squadron's agility and maturity at operating with our latest F-35A capability,” he said.

No 77 Squadron started conversion to the F-35A in early 2021, following the withdrawal from service of the Boeing F/A-18A/B Hornet multirole fighters in December 2020. Most F-35As are in service with No 3 Squadron and the 2OCU at RAAF Williamtown.

The final unit flying the Hornet, No 75 Squadron operating from RAAF Base Tindal in the Northern Territory, will retire the remaining aircraft by the end of 2021 and begin F-35A conversion in 2022.

As stated by the Australian DoD, the latest batch of F-35As ferried to Australia was also the final delivery task of 2021.

Looking to read the full article?

Gain unlimited access to Janes news and more...