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F-35 flypast cancelled due to ‘unsafe’ weather conditions

F-35 flypast cancelled due to ‘unsafe’ weather conditions

The flypast of six F-35s over Canberra to mark the death of the Queen was cancelled because of crosswinds at RAAF Base Williamtown.

The flypast of six F-35s over Canberra to mark the death of the Queen was cancelled because of crosswinds at RAAF Base Williamtown.

Defence said in a statement that the bad weather would have made “launch or landing unsafe”.

It came as Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Governor-General David Hurley and Opposition Leader Peter Dutton all attended the national memorial service at Parliament House to pay their respects to Her Majesty.

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“All low-level flying activities are conducted within strict safety and operational guidelines, and flying is subject to change, including short notice cancellation, due to variables such as air traffic control requirements, weather, and operational availability,” Defence said.

The weather also affected commercial aviation, with over 40 flights cancelled at Sydney Airport alone and more disruption expected nationwide today.

The F-35 is the country’s newest fighter, purchased to replace the RAAF’s F/A-18A/B Classic Hornets that were in service since 1985 and retired in late 2021.

Over the coming years, Australia will buy 72 as part of the $17 billion AIR 6000 Phase 2A/B program, with all expected to be fully operational by 2023.

The aircraft comes in three variants: the F-35A — purchased by Australia — is a conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) version; the F-35B is a short take-off/vertical landing (STOVL) variant, and the final F-35C is the carrier type (CV).

The RAAF took delivery of four more in the last week, taking its current fleet to 54. The fighter jets flew from Luke Air Force Base, Arizona with the aid of a KC-30A refuelling aircraft.

Despite the poor weather which grounded their operations this week, the aircraft was able to take part in Exercise Pitch Black last month for the very first time.

The three-week training program in the Northern Territory was conducted at Bases Darwin and Tindal, with Base Amberley in Queensland also included. It included counterparts from 15 countries.

“Exercise Pitch Black is the largest Australian-based international exercise 81 Wing has participated in since transitioning to the F-35A and we’re excited by the opportunity to integrate the jet’s advanced capabilities with so many of our international partners,” Commanding Officer of No. 3 Squadron, Wing Commander Adrian Kiely said in August.

[Related: New F-35A aircraft join RAAF fleet ]

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