The ADF’s newest strike aircraft has successfully conducted its first public working display, in the skies over the NSW Central Coast. 

The F-35A Lightning II took to the skies for a 20-minute display of power and precision at the Central Coast Airshow, which showcased ADF elements in the air and on the ground.

Pilot Flight Lieutenant Ross Bowman said it was a privilege to demonstrate the aircraft’s capability in public for the first time.

“Flying an F-35A is an absolute thrill, every time you fire up the engine, you get a real buzz inside you,” Flight Lieutenant Bowman said.

Australia has assessed the F-35A as the most capable and best value fifth generation multi-role fighter to meet Australia’s future air power needs. An F-35A squadron stands ready to conduct technologically advanced strike and air combat roles.

“Compared to the Hornet, I noticed a huge power difference, as soon as the after burner is lit, you’re forced back in the seat, and before you know it, you’re up into the airspace,” Flight Lieutenant Bowman said.

More than 50 Australian companies have directly shared in more than $2.7 billion in global F-35A production and sustainment contracts to date, affording further opportunities to small and unique Australian businesses who indirectly benefit through supply chain work. 

“A big thing for me is inspiring the younger generation, and hopefully they get to experience what I’m doing at the moment,” Flight Lieutenant Bowman said.

Navy provided a further demonstration of ADF capability, through static displays of its remotely piloted aircraft systems, the ScanEagle and Camcopter S-100.

Chief Petty Officer Matthew Lang, No. 822X Squadron, said it was exciting to be at the forefront of experimenting with unmanned aerial systems (UAVs).

“The Remote Pilot Warfare Officer workgroup has just been stood up recently, to pilot the UAVs. That’s a brand new workgroup,” Chief Petty Offier Lang said.

“It’s also very network intensive; ground control systems are completely network based, so having strong skills in this area will help with the maintenance of the ground control system.” 

The inaugural Central Coast Airshow recognised Air Force Centenary Celebrations, with flying displays from the Wirraway, Boomerang, Winjeel and Mustang, operated by Air Force No. 100 Squadron.

The show's organiser, Paul Bennet, said it was a special opportunity to have a mix of old and new aircraft.

“It’s been a fantastic tribute to Air Force heritage with the Wirraway, Winjeel, Boomerang and the Mustang,” Mr Bennet said.

“But the F-35A’s the icing on the cake.”