First Australian pilots to undertake F-35A training
1 March 2014
The names of the first two Australian pilots selected to undergo training in the United States on the F-35A Lightning II, commonly known as the Joint Strike Fighter, were today announced by the Deputy Chief of Air Force, Air Vice Marshal Gavin Davies.
AVM Davies said the training represented an important milestone towards introducing the F-35A into RAAF service.
“It is fitting to announce the future of this capability here at Point Cook, where military aviation in Australia was born,” he said.
“Our history is important, and our first two pilots will make history as they become our first pilots to fly this fifth generation aircraft.
“Not only do they represent the future of RAAF, they will have an important leadership and training role as future instructors for the F-35A,” AVM Davies said.
Squadron Leaders Andrew Jackson and David Bell, currently based at RAAF Base Williamtown, NSW, were selected for their operational flying skills, extensive experience and leadership. They are among the very best in their field. They will soon travel to the United States to commence their training.
“The F-35A will be Australia’s firstfifth generation aircraft and will provide us with an incredible air combat capability. I’m excited to be given the opportunity to take a leading role in its introduction” Squadron Leader Jackson, a qualified Fighter Combat Instructor, said.
Squadron Leader Bell, a qualified Test Pilot, was equally impressed by the opportunity.
“This aircraft gives fighter pilots a level of situational awareness that far exceeds legacy platforms. It will be an honour to work alongside the US Air Force and to be at the leading edge of delivering the F-35A to Australia,” he said.
The RAAF’s first two F-35A aircraft are scheduled to complete production in mid-2014 .
Images available at http://images.defence.gov.au/S20140345
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999
Regional Manager Victoria, Public Affairs, Kate Kennedy 0477 706 009
Squadron Leader Andrew Jackson. Squadron Leader Jackson is currently Executive Officer of No 2 Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) at RAAF Williamtown, NSW. He graduated from the AustralianDefenceForceAcademy in 1997 with a Bachelor of Technology (Aero). He commenced flying FA-18 Hornet aircraft in December 2000 and is a qualified Fighter Combat Instructor. He will travel to the US to commence F-35A training in early 2015 at Elgin Air Force Base (AFB). He will then transition to Luke AFB to fly in the USAF training squadron that will include the Australian F-35A.
Squadron Leader David Bell. Squadron Leader Bell is currently a Planning Staff Officer at Headquarters Air Combat Group, at RAAF Williamtown, NSW. He completed a Bachelor of Aviation at the University of New South Wales in 2000 and then worked as a flying instructor and charter pilot in commercial aviation before joining the RAAF in 2002. He is a qualified Test Pilot and has served at the RAAF Aircraft Research and Development Unit. He is currently employed as the F-35A Commonwealth Test Pilot and in future planning for Air Combat Group. He will travel to the US to commence F-35 training from mid-2015.