The Lockheed Martin F-35 celebrated its very first appearance in Australia on Monday 27 February. The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) ferried its first two F-35As all the way from the US to Down Under to participate in the Australian International Airshow in Avalon from 28 February until 5 March.
The jets touched Australian soil for the first time as they arrived at Amberley airbase in northwest Australia shortly after 5.00pm local time. They departed Luke Air Force Base in Arizona last week, where they are used for RAAF-pilot training.
So far, Australia has committed to 72 F-35As, which are to equip a total of three squadrons at Williamtown airbase and Tindal airbase. They will first enter operational service with the RAAF in 2020. A further order for 28 more aircraft may very well be on the cards, which will then form a fourth squadron at Amberley airbase.
The Australian International Airshow should also see the debut of the first EA-18 Growlers for the Royal Australian Air Force.
© 2017 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): A Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) F-35, seen here at Luke Air Force Base. (Image © Staff Sgt. Staci Miller / USAF)
Airbus Helicopters on 22 November announced it has delivered the last of 15 H135 helicopters for the Helicopter Aircrew Training System (HATS) for the Australian Defence Force (ADF), completing on-time deliveries of the full fleet. The whole fleet of 15 helicopters was manufcatured at the Airbus Helicopters production plant in Donauwörth, Germany. Airheadsfly.com visited the site earlier in 2016.
Under the JP9000 Phase 7 HATS project, a new joint helicopter training program for Navy and Army aircrew is to utilise the 15 EC135T2+ helicopters, along with flight simulators and a new flight-deck equipped sea-going training vessel. Boeing Defence Australia is the prime contractor for the new training system, partnered by Thales Australia who supplies the flight simulators and synthetic training devices.
“Airbus Helicopters is proud to know that Boeing has accepted now all 15 of their new H135s, on time and on budget”, said Peter Harris, Head of Governmental Sales for Australia – Pacific. “Following contract signature in November of 2014, and in the space of only two years, we have trained the initial cadre of Boeing and Commonwealth aircrew and technicians and all 15 aircraft have now been accepted”.
Boeing’s HATS Director Terry Nichols said that the Boeing team is very happy with the performance thus far of the H135 and commended Airbus Helicopters for their on-time delivery.
Airbus Helicopters has delivered around 1,200 H135s to customers around the globe who have logged a total of more than four million flight hours.
Pilatus Aircraft has successfully tested the first of 49 PC-21 trainer aircraft destined for the Australian Defence Force, the company said on Thursday 21 July. The initial production test flight over the Pilatus factory in Stans, Switzerland, came only seven months after contract signature.
Under a contract signed in December 2015 aimed at harmonising Australian Defence Force flight training across all three services – Army, Navy and Air Force – Pilatus will deliver a total of 49 PC-21 which will operate from four Royal Australian Air Force bases. Pilatus will also supply significant elements of ground based training equipment and the in-service support capability.
This first PC-21 will be handed over to the Royal Australian Air Force at East Sale in June 2017 after completion of testing and verification work in both Switzerland and Australia.
The PC-21 aircraft will replace both the aging PC-9 fleet, which has been in service since 1988, and also the CT-4 aircraft currently used for basic training. The PC-9 is due to be withdrawn in 2019 after thirty years of service and more than 500,000 flying hours.
The PC-21s for Australia will form the backbone of future pilot training for the Australian Defence Force for the next 25 years.
Australia is set to place a follow-on order for the Boeing CH-47F Chinook. Three more of the heavy-lift helicopters are about to make their way to the Royal Australian Army, joining the seven already in service.
The US State Department notified the US Congress of the planned military sale worth US$180 million. The choppers will be equipped with the Common Missile Warning Systems (CMWS), Honeywell H-764 gps/nav systems, infrared signature suppression systems and more standard systems. Pilots enjoy a full digital cockpit.
The Chinooks can carry 33 fully-equipped troops, besides the standard crew of four (2 pilots, loadmaster, air crew) over a maximum range of 372 miles (600 km) at speeds up to 170 knots (315 km/h or 195 mph).
All Chinooks are flown by the Australian Army’s 5th Aviation Regiment, 16th Aviation Brigade, from RAAF Townsville in northern Queensland, Australia. The airfield is situated a few miles north of the Lavarack Barracks, a major Australian Army ground units base.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: A Royal Australian Army CH-47F Chinook (Image © Boeing)
Australia on Tuesday 8 December finally signed the deal for the delivery of 49 Pilatus PC-21 turboprop trainers as part of a pilot training program contract awarded to Lockheed Martin. The PC-21 was selected as the aircaft of choice earlier in 2015.
Australia is no stranger to the PC-21, as the training platform has been in service with the Republic of Singapore Air Force at RAAF Base Pearce in Western Australia since 2008. The PC-21 is also operated by the air forces of Switzerland, the UAE, Saudi-Arabia and Qatar. With this latest order 180 aircraft have been sold.
The PC-21 replaces the PC-9 in Australian service, which was introduced Down Under in 1987. Pilot training in the aircraft commenced in 1989. All were built under license by Hawker de Havilland in Sydney.
The PC-21’s for Australia will be delivered commencing June 2017 and will form the backbone of pilot training for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) for the next 25 years.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest