• Australian F-35As fly alongside F-35Cs of VX-9. 

Credit: Defence
    Australian F-35As fly alongside F-35Cs of VX-9. Credit: Defence

Four US Navy Lockheed Martin F-35C Joint Strike Fighters arrived at RAAF Base Williamtown on 8 June, marking the first ever deployment of the Carrier Variant (CV) to Australia.

The four aircraft are operated by the US Navy’s Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 9 (VX-9) and deployed to Williamtown to exercise with F-35A Lightning aircraft from No.3 Squadron RAAF.

“United States Navy F-35C aircraft are currently deployed to RAAF Base Williamtown to exercise with Royal Australian Air Force F-35A aircraft,” a Defence spokesperson told ADM. “The exercise is focused on enhancing interoperability between the two services.”

The four aircraft also participated in Exercise Dawn Strike 2024 on 28 June, alongside 15 RAAF F-35As.

The F-35C is the last of the three baseline variants of the F-35 and is in service with the US Navy and Marine Corps. It features a larger wing compared with the Conventional Take off and Landing (CTOL) F-35A and Short Take Off & Vertical Landing (STOVL) F-35B, folding wingtips, modified landing gear and an arresting hook, for operations aboard the US Navy’s aircraft carriers.

VX-9 “Vampires” is based at NAS China Lake in California and operates several different aircraft types – including the F-35C and Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers in support of the test and evaluation of weapons and their related systems.

The US Navy F-35Cs departed RAAF Base Williamtown and returned to the US at the end of June.

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