There are rumors Australia’s new pair of Joint Strike Fighters, the F-35A, will visit their new home at Tindal RAAF Base soon.
Perhaps even as soon as tomorrow.
The first two of the 72 F-35A’s being purchased by Australia touched down at Williamtown in NSW today.
Thousands of people lined streets and beaches between Newcastle and Port Stephens as the two jets, flanked by the ageing F/A- Hornets they're set to replace, flew the last leg of their journey from the US.
Most of the pilot training on this fifth-generation warplane will happen at Williamtown but the combat-ready planes will be headed for Tindal ready for deployment to the north.
This is the reason for the almost $1 billion ongoing public spend on Tindal, already the biggest air base in Australia.
Costing $124 million apiece, the F-35’s will be a game-changer for the RAAF, Defence Minister Christopher Pyne said today.
“This is the most advanced, multi-role stealth fighter in the world,” he said.
The F-35A’s are supposed to be super-stealthy but as the people of Katherine may soon discover, they also have a reputation for being loud.
They have very different noise profiles from the Hornets, which has two engines and the F-35A’s have one.
It is said they are many times louder that the Hornets we have become familiar with over the years.
The plane’s engine punches it along at almost 2000kmh.
An Australian Defence Force draft Environmental Impact Statement in 2014 described the F-35 as noisier than the F/A-18 Hornet at takeoff and landing.
At that time, the ADF indicated the F-35A’s will have their thrust after takeoff restricted to 60 per cent of their engine capacity to reduce noise levels to below those of the Hornet.
Australia is spending more than $17 billion for just 72.
Tindal is to receive 16 of the new planes to form its operational squadron, on the pointy end of Australia’s defence capability.
About $2 billion worth of planes.
Tindal is scheduled to take delivery from early 2022 “to reach its full squadron size by 2023”.
Australia is set to receive another eight within a year, and some may find their way to Tindal.
Of course Tindal is also set to be home to a fleet of MQ-4C Triton drone planes with base upgrades costing $110 million.
Works is also being done to prepare for the EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft which will use Tindal as a launching pad for training at the giant Delamere bombing range.
Tindal and Delamere are joined at the military hip in many ways.
Known as one of the best air weapons ranges in the world, or DELAWR, Delamere offers more than 2000 square kilometres of government-owned land, 120km south of Katherine, under the control of Tindal.
Australia’s “fleet” of about 71 F/A18-A/B Classic Hornets, is expected to be retired from 2023.
The RAAF has been contacted to comment on the rumoured visit to Tindal.
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