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December 10, 2018
 

Australia F-35s leave in historic launch

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Staff Sgt. Jensen Stidham
Luke AFB, Ariz.

A Royal Australian Air Force airman carries supplies into a C-17 Globemaster III at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., Dec. 3, 2018. The RAAF loaded the aircraft with airmen and supplies in preparation for their multi-day journey to Australia. The Globemaster is scheduled to follow two F-35A Lightning II’s for their historic arrival in Australia.

The Royal Australian Air Force launched two F-35A Lightning II’s Dec. 3, starting the multi-day journey to a historic arrival in Australia.

The two jets, along with a KC-30A, C-17 and approximately 40 airmen, will accompany the fighters on the more than 10,000 mile journey from Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., to RAAF base Amberley, with brief stops in Hawaii and Guam.

Scheduled to land at RAAF base Williamstown, New South Wales, Dec. 10, the F-35s, the pilots and airmen will be welcomed home with a colossal ceremony.

“All five of us pilots are sharing the flying back to Australia,” said Wing Commander Darren Clare, No. 3 Squadron commander. “However, Squadron Leader Edwin Borrman, F-35 pilot, will be on my wing when we arrive in Williamtown. It will be fantastic to get these jets back in Australia, to start flying and maintaining them in our home environment.”

The Royal Australian Air Force roundel is the official symbol on all RAAF aircraft, used on the side of a C-17 Globemaster III at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., Dec. 3, 2018. The kangaroo has been the center of the roundel since 1956.

The Australian government committed to purchasing the F-35A more than 16 years ago. They are scheduled to receive all 72 of their new war-fighting machines by 2024.

Though several years have gone by since the initial commitment to buy the jets, the RAAF airmen have been prepping to leave Luke for the last two months.

RAAF Flight Sgt. Damian Gardiner, No. 3 Squadron, said over the past months, once the required routine maintenance was completed on the jets, the airmen have been using their time to pack equipment and participate in final training.

As the RAAF prepares for the transition of four squadrons into F-35A squadrons at Williamtown, No. 3 Squadron and pilots within the 61st Fighter Squadron will continue to train at Luke for years to come.
 

Royal Australian Air Force airman prepare to take off in a C-17 Globemaster III at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., Dec. 3, 2018. The RAAF airmen were flying in support of a multi-day mission to bring the first two F-35s to Australia.

 

A Royal Australian Air Force airman waves goodbye before closing the door on a C-17 Globemaster III at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., Dec. 3, 2018. The RAAF loaded the aircraft with airmen and supplies in preparation for their multi-day journey to Australia.

 

Royal Australian Air Force and U.S. Air Force push gear off of a K-Loader at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., Dec. 3, 2018.

 

Royal Australian Air Force Wing Commander Darren Clare, F-35 pilot, waves goodbye while taxiing at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., Dec. 3, 2018. The RAAF was preparing to launch two F-35A Lightning II’s for their historic arrival in Australia several days later.

 

A Royal Australian Air Force F-35A Lightning II taxis at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., Dec. 3, 2018. Two F-35s were preparing to take off and fly to Hawaii as part of their multi-day journey to Australia.

 

A Royal Australian Air Force airman carries supplies into a C-17 Globemaster III at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., Dec. 3, 2018. The RAAF loaded the aircraft with airmen and supplies in preparation for their multi-day journey to Australia.




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