It’s a G’Day, Mate

Sqn. Ldr. (O-4) Matthew Harper is the first Royal Australian Air Force pilot to fly the US Air Force’s F-22 stealth fighter. Harper began a three-year stint last spring with the 90th Fighter Squadron at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, under the Australia-US pilot exchange program that dates back to World War II and fully integrates the foreign pilots into the squadrons to which they are assigned. Accordingly, Harper deployed with elements of the unit in January to Andersen AFB, Guam, for three months as part of a normal rotation of US forces in the region. There, he is serving as an F-22 instructor pilot and the expeditionary unit’s officer in charge of scheduling and training. “The experience so far has been fantastic,” said Harper, praising the professionalism and skills of the unit’s pilots and maintainers. He calls the F-22 “a phenomenal airframe” and says flying it is “an incredible experience.” (Andersen report by SrA. Ryan Whitney)