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First Australian-trained F-35 pilots take flight

The first two Royal Australian Air Force pilots to complete the Australian F-35A Joint Strike Fighter transition course have flown in the aircraft for the first time.

The first two Royal Australian Air Force pilots to complete the Australian F-35A Joint Strike Fighter transition course have flown in the aircraft for the first time.

The two pilots conducted their first F-35A training mission two weeks ago at RAAF Base Williamtown, after undertaking an intensive, two-month academic and simulator training program at the base's Integrated Training Centre.

Squadron Leader William Grady, a former F-22 exchange pilot, said the transition course has been tailored to leverage previous fighter experience.
 
“The F-35A training is unique in that there is no two-seat variant to aid airborne instruction,” SQNLDR Grady said.
 
“As a result, we do comparatively more simulator training before flying for the first time.
 
“It has been an intensive few months, but I’m happy to say the training is first class."
 
Commanding Officer Number 3 Squadron (3SQN), Wing Commander Darren Clare, said the 15 July flights marked an important milestone in the F-35A’s introduction to service.
 
“Being able to watch the launch of the first two Australian-trained pilots on their first flight was a proud moment,” WGCDR Clare said.
 
“Although we currently still send pilots to the US for training, this shows Australia is quickly becoming self-sufficient and it all contributes to our F-35A squadrons reaching combat readiness as planned.
 
“The introduction of a fifth-generation aircraft and all of its new systems has been highly complex.
 
“It has only been since January that we started testing out how the F-35A integrated with the Australian logistics, base support and local training systems.
 
“So the credit for today’s milestone goes to all those who have worked tirelessly to ensure the F-35A has had a smooth introduction to service.
First Australian-trained F-35 pilots take flight
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