Australia has hosted a week long joint strike fighter (JSF) Site Activation Task Force (SATAF) planning session, focussing on topics related to the readiness of the Royal Australian Airforce’s (RAAF) Williamtown Base to accept and operate the first F-35A Lightning II JSF.
Held in Canberra, the latest session is the second of four SATAFs to be conducted in Australia.
The RAAF Base Williamtown is expected to start operating the first F-35A aircraft from the end of 2018.
The session involved representatives from the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Division, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), US based F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) and JSF prime contractor Lockheed Martin.
JSF Division F-35 Maintenance lead squadron leader Scott Schultz said: "The Agenda was based around fundamental inputs to capability development and includes topics such as facilities, workforce, training, security, warehousing and contract planning.
"One of the most critical aspects in integrating the new capability into the ADF sustainment environment is the incorporation of the new Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) into the existing Defence Information Environment and this was also a key item on the agenda."
SATAF sessions are being conducted annually for the four years leading up to the start of F-35A operations at each country’s main operating base.
Schultz added: "This year’s SATAF provided a huge jump in knowledge and lessons learnt from last year, so much happens in a year as F-35 operating sites stand up in the United States and around the world.
"We rely on a small amount of Australian staff in the US to provide insight to us here in JSF Division as we plan for the arrival of our first two F-35A aircraft at RAAF Base Williamtown at the end of 2018.
A total of 72 fifth-generation F-35A aircrafts will be operated from the RAAF Bases Williamtown in NSW and Tindal in the Northern Territory.
Australia’s F-35A fleet will replace the old F/A-18A/B Hornet aircraft.
Image: First Australian F-35A at Luke AFB. Photo: courtesy of US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Staci Miller.