Aussie’s Lightning Lead

The Royal Australian Air Force will be the first international F-35A Lightning II partner to train pilots at the new F-35 formal training unit at Luke AFB, Ariz. “We are really pleased to come in and be the first partner to stand up operations here,” said Squadron Leader Nathan Draper, RAAF’s liaison at Luke’s 61st Aircraft Maintenance Unit, in a release. “We have a really good, close working relationship with our colleges in the Air Force, and we are looking forward to the next few years of joint operations here,” he added. Australia is due to receive its first F-35s this year. The RAAF plans to send its first F-35 pilot to Luke in early 2015 and eventually operate a 14-strong complement of Lightning IIs under the 61st Fighter Squadron, according to the release. Luke will eventually host Canadian, Italian, Dutch, Norwegian, and Turkish F-35 training squadrons as well, officials stated.