RAAF base pre­pares for first F-35 ar­rival

The Queensland Times - - LIFE - — Alisha Welch

WITH more than a year un­til the first two F-35A air­craft ar­rive in Aus­tralia to be per­ma­nently based, RAAF Base Wil­liamtown per­son­nel have joined avi­a­tion ex­perts to as­sess the base’s readi­ness.

The fi­nal an­nual Site Ac­ti­va­tion Task Force ac­tiv­ity in­volved per­son­nel from De­fence, Aus­tralian in­dus­try, the US F-35 Joint Pro­gram Of­fice, and prime con­trac­tors Lock­heed Martin Aero and Pratt and Whit­ney. Monthly re­views have now com­menced in the lead-up to the ar­rival of the first F-35A air­craft in De­cem­ber 2018. Act­ing project di­rec­tor in-ser­vice sup­port WGCDR Vince Palmeri, of the Joint Strike Fighter Divi­sion said SATAF pro­vided an op­por­tu­nity to check ev­ery­thing from air­crew and main­te­nance train­ing, in­for­ma­tion sys­tems, air­wor­thi­ness, en­gi­neer­ing, lo­gis­tics, on-base ser­vices and se­cu­rity, in or­der to be­gin and sus­tain fu­ture F-35A air op­er­a­tions. “The fourth SATAF was a suc­cess due to the peo­ple who went to a lot of ef­fort to or­gan­ise and run the ac­tiv­ity, but equally to those who at­tended and par­tic­i­pated in dis­cus­sions to clar­ify and con­firm the base’s sta­tus with re­gard to be­ing ready for F-35A air op­er­a­tions,” WGCDR Palmeri said.

Dur­ing the ac­tiv­ity, par­tic­i­pants worked through a re­al­is­tic train­ing ex­er­cise that demon­strated the col­lec­tive strength of the di­verse team at Wil­liamtown. “The sce­nario in­volved an F-35A, with weapons, hit­ting a flock of pel­i­cans and a pi­lot suf­fer­ing con­cus­sion, yet able to safely land the air­craft,” WGCDR Palmeri said.

PHOTO: CPL BREN­TON KWATERSKI

F-35 Light­ning II de­part RAAF Base Am­ber­ley for the Avalon Air Show dur­ing a fly­ing visit.

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