PICTURES: RAAF F-35A and EA-18G on show at Avalon 2017
March 03, 2017 • Leave a Comment
Two key assets of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF)'s Plan Jericho — a 10-year blueprint for the transformation of the RAAF into a highly advanced and networked air force — have arrived in Australia and are on show at the 2017 Australian International Airshow held from 28 to 5 March at Avalon, Victoria.
Taking a pause from multi-national pilot training duties at Luke AFB, Arizona where they have been based since the third quarter of 2014, the first two of 72 RAAF Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning IIs — AU-1 and AU-2 — arrived at RAAF Base Amberley on the evening of 27 February after their trans-Pacific ferry flight. Both jets, which are fielding the updated Block 3iP6 software release, arrived at Avalon on 3 March and were officially revealed to the public during the airshow. AU-1 and AU-2 will return to Luke early next week after the event. The first F-35s to be permanently based Down Under will begin arriving from 2018 to initiate the replacement of the F/A-18A/B Classic Hornets, after a period of local integration and operational test and evaluation. They will be operated by three fighter squadrons — No. 3 and 77 Squadrons (along with 2OCU) at RAAF Base Williamtown, New South Wales and No. 75 Squadron at RAAF Base Tindal.
Similarly, the first two of 12 EA-18G Growlers arrived at Avalon on 28 February following a delivery flight from NAS Whidbey Island, Washington, where RAAF crew are undergoing training with the U.S. Navy's Growler Fleet Replacement Squadron — VAQ-129 'Vikings. To be assigned to No.6 Squadron at RAAF Base Amberley, all 12 electronic warfare and support aircraft are planned to arrive in Australia by mid-2017, after a six-month operational test and evaluation program.
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