Air Force’s F-35A Lightning II participated in Exercise Lightning Spear at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, United States from October 12 to 28. 

The exercise was an important continuation training for No. 3 Squadron personnel in line with their ongoing focus of the integration of people and systems for the F-35A. 

Officer Commanding No. 81 Wing Group Captain John Haly said the exercise demonstrated crucial capability of the growing Lightning force in Australia. 

“Working with the United States Air Force provides important military-to-military engagement opportunities for Air Force to build on our shared understanding of a platform we both operate,” Group Captain Haly said.

“Our Air Force team has used this exercise to further develop their skills as world-class air and ground crew.”

The team then conducted Exercise Lightning Ferry to bring an additional nine Lightning aircraft back to Australia. 

The aircraft travelled from Luke Air Force Base, Arizona to RAAF Base Williamtown via Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii, sustained by Air Force’s KC-30A multi-role tanker transports.

Group Captain Haly said the support provided to Air Combat Group by Air Force’s Air Mobility Group and Combat Support Group contributed to Exercise Lightning Ferry’s success. 

“The ferry allowed us to demonstrate our ability to deploy a significant fighter capability halfway across the world in a short period of time,” Group Captain Haly said.

“Our maintenance, logistics, administration, operations, electrician and air load personnel work together to make our force truly expeditionary.”

With these new additions, Air Force now has 30 F-35A Lightning II aircraft in Australia of the planned 72-strong fleet.  

All Air Force personnel involved in Exercises Lightning Spear and Lightning Ferry followed strict isolation and quarantine protocols, in line with national and state requirements.