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First RAAF F-35 pilot to begin conversion training

written by WOFA | January 27, 2015
Centenary of Military Aviation
Squadron Leaders David Bell (left) and Andrew Jackson

The first Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) F-35A Lightning II pilot is due to commence training in the US, Defence announced on Monday.

Squadron Leader Andrew Jackson is about to undergo an intensive training program as he prepares for his first flight in the aircraft at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. SQNLDR Jackson, who was selected on the basis of his operational flying skills, extensive experience and leadership, is set to become an instructor for Australian and international pilots.

“The fifth generation F-35A capabilities represent a quantum shift over legacy fighters. I am looking forward to the training challenge it will present,” SQNLDR Jackson said in a statement

“This aircraft will give fighter pilots a level of situational awareness that far exceeds legacy platforms. Experiencing this level of capability first hand is something every pilot dreams of.”

The second Australian F-35A pilot, SQNLDR David Bell, will begin his training in mid-2015. The first F-35 will arrive in Australia at the end of 2018, and the first operational squadron is expected to be established by 2020.


  • Chris


    The F35A training will be a good stepping stone to the F35B that the Australian Army and RAN really want the RAAF to fly. The RAAF has once again prioritized the Wedgetail, KC30A and Super Hornet deployment to Iraq over the combined ADF in support of Australian economic and security goals. All we need is an Australian government to place the order for the F35Bs for delivery in the 2018-20 timeframe. The old Iroquois pilot Angus Houston in accepting yesterdays moniker just reaffirmed why the Army demanded the helicopters transfer to them post the RAAFs performance in Vietnam.

  • Craigy


    Chris your comments are just strange and not backed by any evidence in your post. So my questions are:.
    1. Why does the Army and Navy want the RAAF to purchase the F35B?
    2. What capability are you suggesting the F35B provides that the F35A doesnt have apart from STOL?
    3. The deployment to the middle east is in support of Australia’s security goals. The deployment is in response to an Australian governement requirement. Your suggestion that the deployment is a RAAF decision is just plain stupid.
    4. What exactly does Angus Houston’s acceptance of his award got to do with transfer of the helicopter assets to Army? What are you alleging 9 Sqn did wrong in Vietnam?

    From my memory, despite a recommendation within defence for Air Force to keep the helicopters, Bennet as CDF at the time gifted the assets to Army before taking up the Governorship of Tasmania. Army also said they didn’t need the Chinook, so they were disposed. Then Army decided they needed the Chinooks. So we purchased Ds and now upgrading to Fs.

  • Chris


    I appear to have hit a nerve with Craigy
    1. The Army and RAN want the F35Bs to fly from Canberra LHDs to secure our ALOCs and SLOCs. The Canberra each carry more JetA1 than our offshore islands like Norfolk. I have confirmed our LHDs have the capacity to carry the full amount of JetA1 the Spanish designed them too. The RAAF do not have access in the region to defend our ALOCs and SLOCs with F35As. The distances required are long with a single engine. Hence the advantage of the F35B with 3/4 internal fuel operating STOVL off RAN ships in Direct Support of the Army too.
    2. The F35B has 6+mtonnes internal fuel like the FA18F and EA18G. It has more operatiinal utility than the F35A even with aerial refuelling especially when diversion factors are considered. KC30A accompanying Wedgetail and P8As can offload excess fuel to the F35Bs. The F35Bs can be rearmed quicker against air and ground tasking. The RAF has been supporting UK forces from the sea since the Falklands. It makes more sense to use 454kg weapons as opposed to 227kg for Tactical and 907kgfor StrategicTargets from a logistical perspective.
    3. The Neocons have had the ADF fighting Israels wars in the ME since 2003 without APH authorisation. Do I need to mention the WMD. Read Rod BARTONs book the Weapons Detective about 10+ yrs with Richard BUTLER led UNSCOM wherein they knew Iraq had nothing. The USA CIA head retired and USA Chief of JS resigned in protest about invading Iraq because they knew it was going to end in tears. I did not suggest it was an RAAF decision. My inference was that the RAAF is fighting a separate war from the Army and RAN. Surprise, surprise. Will the Air power Theorists ever learn that nobody has ever bombed anybody into submission, at any time ever. Nor can you hold ground in such a manner especially around refugees.The PM seems to be operating without Cabinet approval.
    4. 9 SQN were based at Vung Tau. The Army were at Nui Dat. Flying time was wasted between the two for no operational utility purpose. The Army could rely on the USA Army and USMC DUSTOFFs over the RAAF. The SASR felt RAN Wessex were more suitable for CT work following experiences with the RAAF whilst requesting Hot Extraction In Contact experience in SVN. 11 C model Chinook were traded in for 4 D models initially. 7 F models are not enough to support 47 Taipans and 22 Tiger.
    I would need parliamentary privilege to place fearless and frank Army views about RAAF helicopter support until their lobbying had them transferred. Angus HOUSTON should have exercised the option of declining the moniker. You know the old NCO reply. Do Not Call Me Sir, I Work For A Living. Knights have traditionally emptied the Bedpans of the UK Monarch. Happy to debate anyone, anytime, anywhere._

  • craig simpson


    Why would the air force want the worst version of the f35 in the b. It has 2000kg less fuel capability and 5000+km less range then the A. Not to mention the A can handle more G’s and has a higher top speed. The LHD’s have also not been modified to handle the heat of the 35b’s rear thrust nozzle. If the navy wants 35b’s then maybe they should invest in them and start training navy pilots.

  • Chris


    The range loss is 550km. The reduction from 9 to 7 G is of little consequence in our AOs layered defence of JORN, Wedgetail and Hobart Class DDGs using NCW to give greater Situational Awareness without the F35s emitting. Therefore we do not want our pilots engaged in air to air at Cannon ranges with the subsequent loss of airframe life due to high stress loadings. The LHDs only require a Spray On Heat Treatment. They might need a Precision Approach RADAR to recover the F35Bs in all weathers but the Sea Giraffe RADARs will have to be replaced with CEAFARs anyway once all 8 ANZACs have been so modified on EW grounds. CEAMOUNT would allow the Canberras to guide SAMs from escorts using CEC. The Canberras would act as MFARPs with the F35Bs being able to rearm, refuel and swap pilots quicker than F35As operating from fixed bases that could me more easily targeted with Ballistic or Cruise Missiles. We only have Sea Based defences against such in the pipeline.
    The CDF was a Skyhawk pilot in the RAN for 6 yrs before transferring to the RAAF Mirages in 1984. At Milne Bay the RAAF uniquely provided effective CAS in trying circumstances in support of the Army defending their 3 muddy airstrips from Jap bayonets ending their undefeated employment of combined arms combined forces operations to that point. The RAAF community will have to get used to the idea of sea basing. 4 meals a day in Air Conditioned comfort is better than living out tents in the tropical monsoon.
    The AESA RADARs and EOTS in all 3 F35 models are the same. Use of the Afterburner dramatically increases fuel consumption and increases the IR signature for AAMs targeted by IRSTs on opposing fighters. The RAAF needs to come onboard Team ADF.
    USMC F35Bs will be Operational first. 6-8 F35Bs can be stowed on the Starboard Flight Deck and Lifts without effecting the Portside 200m Runway and Ski Ramp. After the EMF has been landed the Extended Hangar can house another 8 F35B on the Port side and 8-16 Taipan and Tiger helicopters too Starboard.
    Chinooks would operate from Choules or similar.

  • Jacob


    Good luck Andrew, work hard play hard mate. I aspire to be as a good as an instructor as you.

  • Mike


    It doesn’t matter if the Army and Navy want the F-35B to fly off the Canberra LHDs. The LHDs are NOT aircraft carriers and not designed to operate as such. They are optimised for amphibious operations using water craft and helicopters. They do not have sufficient fuel and weapons bunkerage to operate fixed wing. They can only carry about 730t of aviation fuel compared to 800t for the Juan Carlos and 1200t for a Wasp. Not only would the LHD tanks and weapons bunkers need increased capacity (at the expense of its amphibious capability) so would the replenishment ships. Plus they do not have the thermion deck coating required for any type of VTOL operation. A Harrier exhaust is about 800 degrees and a JSF exhaust is about 925 degrees. The existing Canberra deck will soften at a mere 425 degrees.

    On top of all that, the the F-35B is the most expensive and most problematic of the JSF variants.

  • adammudhen


    What a great feeling, knowing you’re going down in history as the first RAAF pilot/instructor of the F-35. Good on him. Also, this thread has taken a strange turn.

  • Wombat


    Wow. I’m not even mad.

    Strange turn? Is it even on the track? Perhaps Chris is caught in a re-run of the movie ‘Stealth’ where all good Navy folk get their fast jet knowledge.

  • Chris


    For OPSEC reasons Mike I deliberately Did Not mention capacities. Your figure of 730 long/metric/short t of JetA1 if metric =~122 refuels of 6mtonnes. That’s 16 sorties for each of 8 F35B. The Canberras were designed for the F35B by the Spanish evolved Sea Control Ship design. Both Aircraft Elevators are F35B dimensioned and MTOW. The 200m Portside Flight Deck and Ski Jump are for the F35B. 8 F35B stowed too Starboard on the Flight Deck will not come at the expense of any Amphibious Capability. The JetA1 stowage is adequate as is the EO stowage on Deck5 via the 5mtonne Ammo Lift near the Deck Crane. The Flight Deck heat treatment is Not Insurmountable. The AOR contract has not been awarded. The F35B is the most expensive, but we need the STOVL Fixed Wing capability at sea in our AO.
    The RAAF are still equipping to fight another war in isolation from the Army and RAN. 3 RAAF ATC amongst a crew of ~400 is pathetic. I am sure the EMF personnel will willingly Hot Bunk to facilitate Fleet Air Defence and CAS over and beyond the Objective. Come on board Team ADF RAAF! Why is your planning and thinking so deficient?

  • Dee


    Ah Chris, you seem to have forgotten that Japan was actually bombed into submission back in 1945, or were the two “Boys” dropped on Honshu not counted as bombs?

  • Wilson


    Looks like a typical case of the arm chair expert knows best here Chris.

    Can I suggest that if you did have access to some sort of information that required you to observe ‘OPSEC’ maybe you’d have a different view altogether? Perhaps one more aligned with the ADF’s government mandated strategic goals?

    Finally, your argument that the RAAF is intentionally fighting its own wars is interesting considering that there is no political mandate for boots on the ground. Bit hard to cooperate when your keepers won’t let you don’t you think?

  • Jazz


    ‘Willingly hot bunk’ – tell him he’s dreamin’!

Comments are closed.


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