By Flying Officer Bronwyn Marchant
Air Force has now received 44 of the planned 72 F-35A Lightning II aircraft after three more aircraft touched down at RAAF Base Williamtown on November 18.
The newest aircraft to join the fleet have been accepted by No. 77 Squadron, which transited the three F-35As from Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, United States, through Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, to Australia as part of Exercise Lightning Ferry 21-4.
Commanding Officer No. 77 Squadron Wing Commander Tim Ireland said it was an important step for the squadron’s growth after re-equipping with F 35A aircraft this year.
“Our focus in 2021 has been to stand-up an F-35A combat ready team,” Wing Commander Ireland said.
“The additional aircraft will help us generate a ready force able to integrate into a high-end all domain fight.”
Before the transit to Australia, No. 77 Squadron participated in Exercise Lighting Spear 21 at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, from November 1 to 5.
Wing Commander Ireland said Lightning Spear was an operational test activity for No. 81 Wing aimed to verify weapons integration.
“The consecutive activities of Lightning Spear and Lightning Ferry demonstrates No. 77 Squadron’s agility and maturity at operating with our latest F-35A capability,” he said.
“The F-35A is the seventh fighter that No. 77 Squadron has operated. It’s humbling to be a part of such a significant phase of our proud 79-year history.”
The latest aircraft ferried across the Pacific as part of Exercise Lightning Ferry 21-4 was the final delivery task of 2021.
This article was published by the RAAF on November 23, 2021.
Exercise Lightning Ferry 21-4 saw the arrival of three additional F-35A Lightning II aircraft to join the No. 81 Wing fleet on November 20.
The aircraft travelled from Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, United States, to RAAF Base Williamtown.
The exercise was conducted by No. 77 Squadron, who also completed Exercise Lightning Spear 2021 preceding the ferry at Eglin Air Force Base from 1st to 5th November.
Australia has committed to 72 F-35A aircraft for three operational squadrons at RAAF Base Williamtown and RAAF Base Tindal, and a training squadron at RAAF Base Williamtown.
Australia has now received 44 of the planned 72-strong F-35A fleet.
The photos are credited to the Australian Department of Defence.