The first Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) F-35A Lightning II pilot is due to commence training in the US, Defence announced on Monday.
Squadron Leader Andrew Jackson is about to undergo an intensive training program as he prepares for his first flight in the aircraft at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. SQNLDR Jackson, who was selected on the basis of his operational flying skills, extensive experience and leadership, is set to become an instructor for Australian and international pilots.
“The fifth generation F-35A capabilities represent a quantum shift over legacy fighters. I am looking forward to the training challenge it will present,” SQNLDR Jackson said in a statement
“This aircraft will give fighter pilots a level of situational awareness that far exceeds legacy platforms. Experiencing this level of capability first hand is something every pilot dreams of.”
The second Australian F-35A pilot, SQNLDR David Bell, will begin his training in mid-2015. The first F-35 will arrive in Australia at the end of 2018, and the first operational squadron is expected to be established by 2020.