The first delivery of Australia's training equipment for the Joint Strike Fighter has touched down at RAAF Base Williamtown.
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The equipment, delivered by the Antonov An-124, touched down in Australia after a two-day journey from the United Kingdom carrying equipment for the Australian F-35A Integrated Training Centre.
Defence Minister Marise Payne said the equipment will give Australia its own F-35 pilot training capability.
“Today’s delivery includes an Ejection Systems Maintenance Trainer which is a replica of the F-35A aircraft escape systems and a Weapons Load Trainer, which replicates the F-35A fuselage, including the weapons bay and wing hard points," the minister said.
"The equipment delivered today will provide Australia with its own F-35 pilot and maintainer training capability and will form part of the overall Australian F-35A Training System.
"Importantly this equipment will enable our pilots and crews to train without having to remove aircraft from flight schedules."
Two of Australia’s F-35A aircraft, to be based at RAAF Base Williamtown, will arrive from December 2018 and pilot training is expected to commence at Williamtown from mid next year.
Future deliveries to Williamtown’s No. 2 Operational Conversion Unit will include six Full Mission Simulators required for F-35A pilot training.
“The first two of these six simulators will be delivered later this year,” Minister Payne confirmed.
Australia now has five aircraft at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona where RAAF pilots are currently training. Five more aircraft are scheduled for delivery by the end of 2018.
The Australian government is investing in 72 F-35A Lightning II aircraft to replace the current fleet of 71 ageing F/A-18A/B Classic Hornets.