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US Marines and RAAF collaborate on F-35 training

U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Michael O’Brien, Commanding Officer of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314, Marine Aircraft Group 11, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, discusses the capabilities of a U.S. Marine Corps F-35C Lightning II aircraft with Air Commodore Peter Robinson, Commander of Air Combat Group, Royal Australian Air Force, and Wing Commander Adrian Kiely, Commanding Officer of RAAF No. 3 Squadron, while touring RAAF Base Williamtown, New South Wales, Australia, June 28, 2023. Photo: Courtesy Photo.

US Marines have trained with Australian Defence Force personnel at Royal Australian Air Force Base Williamtown in NSW.

US Marines have trained with Australian Defence Force personnel at Royal Australian Air Force Base Williamtown in NSW.

Across three weeks, “Black Knights” Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314 and RAAF aviators with No. 3 Squadron worked with Marine Corps F-35C Lightning II aircraft on a series of bilateral training events during late June.

RAAF No. 3 Squadron Commanding Officer Wing Commander Adrian Kiely said the squadrons have previously worked together to sustain and enhance aviation capabilities in the Indo-Pacific Region.


“Over the past year, No. 3 Squadron has operated with VMFA-314, aiming to deepen operational and maintenance interoperability,” he said.

“In 2023 specifically, we are seeking to test and prove interchangeability, with a specific focus on our maintenance and logistics workforces.”

Training included launching, refuelling, catching, and maintaining each squadron’s respective joint strike fighter variant of the US Marine Corps F-35C Lightning II and RAAF F-35A Lightning II.

The aviators were able to transfer a 270-volt battery from a RAAF F-35A and place it in a USMC F-35C, demonstrating fluency, interoperability, and interchangeability between the two teams and their aircraft variants.

VMFA-314 Maintenance Control Chief Gunnery Sergeant Michael Mann said units conducted pre-load inspections, proficiency loading and downloading of ordnance, including AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-To-Air Missiles and Captive Air Training Missiles.

“The significance of us being able to use components from one F-35 model to another, from two independent units, is monumental for our ability to accomplish the mission safely and efficiently, even when faced with global supply chain constraints,” he said.

“During my six years in the field and experience with multiple platforms, I have not witnessed such a capability.”

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