The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has started to build-up its F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter (JSF) aircraft operations at Luke Air Force Base (AFB) in Arizona, US.
Representing Luke’s first international F-35A training partner, RAAF aims to get a complete working picture of the US Air Force (USAF) F-35 operations, before returning to the air base being set up for the fighter in Australia.
61st Aircraft Maintenance Unit participant maintenance liaison officer and RAAF senior officer major Nathan Draper said: "We have a really good, close working relationship with our colleagues in the air force, and we are looking forward to the next few years of joint operations here."
The RAAF plans to station a total of 14 F-35 fighters at the air base, with the first expected to arrive by the end of 2014.
Luke AFB is scheduled to serve as ground zero for international partners to build their expertise in F-35A operations, for increased success in joint combat operations.
61st AMU officer in-charge captain Dan Langan said the move represents one more step forward towards making the aircraft combat capable.
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"The idea behind this aircraft was to make it easier to operate with our multinational partners, understand the same tactics, operate with the same logistics base, and figuring out how to do that starts right here," Langan said.
Additional international countries scheduled to start F-35A operation training at the base in the future include Italy, Norway, Canada, Turkey and the Netherlands.
The RAAF, which received approval from the federal government to purchase 14 F-35s in 2009, also confirmed plans to acquire an additional 58 fifth-generation aircraft for $12.4bn last month.
Image: The F-35 Lightning II JSF is a fifth-generation aircraft under development by Lockheed Martin. Photo: courtesy of USAF Staff Sgt. Joely Santiago.