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“Weight on wheels” for first RAAF F-35

written by WOFA | December 18, 2013

Air Commodore Cath Roberts with Jeff Babione in front of AU-1. (Lockheed Martin)
Air Commodore Cath Roberts with Jeff Babione in front of AU-1. (Lockheed Martin)

The first F-35A for the RAAF is standing on its on wheels for the first time, a significant milestone for the jet as it moves down the production line of Lockheed Martin’s mile-long assembly plant in Fort Texas, Texas.

The first aircraft, dubbed AU-1 by Lockheed Martin and the future A35-001 with the RAAF, was lifted by an overhead crane from an EMAS – electronic mate and alignment systems – station where its forward and rear fuselage sections were joined to the wing-centre fuselage assembly, to final assembly, where its control surfaces are added and final systems and engine are installed.

AU-1 is due to roll out of the factory in July next year and, alongside sistership AU-2, initially will be based at Luke AFB, Arizona as part of the US Air Force’s F-35 training system being established there.

The December 13 craning of AU-1 from its EMAS station to final assembly was witnessed by a small group of Lockheed Martin and Defence officials, including Air Commodore Cath Roberts, Director General New Air Combat Capability, and Jeff Babione, Lockheed Martin’s vice president and deputy program manager of the F-35 program.

Air Commodore Roberts was already in Fort Worth for other F-35 business that happened to coincide with the “weight on wheels” milestone.



  • Lewis


    That F-35 picture frame in the background looks like it’s 11 years old and still no F 35 yet.

  • Andrew McLaughlin


    Great to see!

  • Dane


    Will the Australian aircaft in the States used for trainng have their hours capped so we don’t end up with them requiring overhaul before they get to Australia?

  • R.J.


    Great to see Women taking a leading role in Aviation, both within Australia and on the wold stage!

  • John N



    What would be the point of having two shiny new F-35’s available for training if they are not used for training to the fullest? Sure they will clock up some airframe hours (how many, who knows?), but isn’t that the whole point of having them there, being available to train pilots?

    Don’t forget the other side of the coin, in other aircraft acquisitions from the US, ADF pilots and crews have had the opportunity and advantage of spending time with the various arms of the US Military to gain experience on a whole range of aircraft before we receive our own, there was training on USN Super Hornets, training is just starting for the Growler crews, again on USN aircraft, the crews that will operate the MH-60R’s have also been training of USN aircraft, the list goes on.

    Though there is one question, I do remember reading a while ago that because in the early days of F-35 training, there will be a ‘common’ pool of aircraft used to train pilots from the various F-35 ‘partner’ nations, that a question arose along the lines of: ‘what if a pilot from one country crashes the aircraft he is training on and the aircraft does not belong to his Country (an RAAF pilot training on a USAF aircraft for example), who is responsible for replacing that lost aircraft? The Country of the pilot or the Country the aircraft belonged to??

    I only saw that reported once and I haven’t heard if there is an answer to that question, be interesting to know if an agreement has been made amongst the various partners to resolve that ‘what if’.

  • Adrian


    The yanks will probably use ours to the maximum. But just personally I hope for tax payers sake we are looking for other viable options before going all in on this possibly over rated hunk of junk.

  • roy schick


    In response to Adrian, In a spirit of cooperation, and with great friendship for a partner in defense of the free world, I hope my country will treat your country fairly. I don’t believe this is a “piece of junk”.

  • Lindsay May


    What a pity they couldn’t hang our national flag correctly. Canton to the upper left please!

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