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

RAAF base prepares for first F-35 arrival

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.



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