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.
Source: MoD Australia
Date: Mar 1, 2014