Australian Lightning II programme
Meanwhile, the US Marine Corps now also have a full complement of F-35B fighters at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan. The final Lightning II from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 121 ‘Green Knights’ arrived at the base on 15 November, ten months after the squadron’s first aircraft touched down in Japan.
As a historical aside: the RIAF’s No. 4 Squadron with Spitfire Mk.XIVs was deployed to Iwakuni in 1946 as part of the Commonwealth Occupation Forces. functional tests in the United States as “required to ensure all future F-35As produced in Japan meet design and performance specifications.”
Meanwhile, the first Northrop Grumman E-2D for the Japan Air Self-Defence Force (JASDF) flew on 13 November 2017 at the company’s Aircraft Integration Centre of Excellence in St Augustine Florida. Japan selected the E-2D in 2014 to fulfill its airborne early warning requirements, Northrop awarded a $151.3m in November 2015, with contract completion due in March 2018.
The third F-35A Lightning II for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) conducted its first flight on 1 December 2017 at Fort Worth, Texas. This will join the RAAF’s No. 3 Squadron. “The completion of our third Joint Strike Fighter is a significant achievement for Australia’s F-35A project,” said Minister for Defence Industry, Christopher Pyne. “It is particularly exciting that a key component – the tail piece – was manufactured in Australia, by the Australian company, Marand Engineering.”