An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : Media : News : News Article View
NEWS | July 12, 2023

Unprecedented Interchangeability: U.S. Marines and Aussie Aviators Fly, Maintain and Operate Joint Strike Fighters Together

By 2nd Lt. Madison Walls, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing

U.S. Marines and Marine Corps F-35C Lightning II aircraft from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 314, Marine Aircraft Group 11, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, have been training with Allies at Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Williamtown, New South Wales, Australia for three weeks. Upon arrival following their trans-Pacific flights, and after a year in the making, these Marines, also known as the “Black Knights,” and RAAF aviators with RAAF No. 3 Squadron (3SQN) began a series of unit-level and bilateral training events designed to sustain and enhance aviation capabilities in the Indo-Pacific Region.

This is not the squadrons’ first time working together, but it has been an extraordinary step in their working relationship.

“Over the past year, No. 3 Squadron has operated with VMFA-314, aiming to deepen operational and maintenance interoperability,” said Wing Commander Adrian Kiely, Commanding Officer of RAAF No. 3 Squadron. “In 2023 specifically, we are seeking to test and prove interchangeability, with a specific focus on our maintenance and logistics workforces.”

The scheduled training events have included launching, refueling, catching, and maintaining each squadron’s respective joint strike fighter variant, U.S. Marine Corps F-35C Lightning II and RAAF F-35A Lightning II.

 A landmark event for both RAAF and USMC took place when RAAF aviators pulled a 270-volt battery, the main power support system that provides electrical power for each component of the jet, from a RAAF F-35A and placed it in a USMC F-35C. This success not only demonstrates enhanced fluency between the two teams and their aircraft variants, but also takes the RAAF-USMC relationship from interoperable to interchangeable.

“The significance of us being able to use components from one F-35 model to another, from two independent units, is monumental for our ability to accomplish the mission safely and efficiently, even when faced with global supply chain constraints,” said Gunnery Sgt. Michael Mann, Maintenance Control Chief for VMFA-314. “During my six years in the field, and experience with multiple platforms, I have not witnessed such a capability.”

Additionally, the units conducted pre-load inspections, proficiency loading and downloading of ordnance, including AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-To-Air Missiles and Captive Air Training Missiles. Airmen and Marines utilized these training events to create completely mixed ordnance teams, pulling from a pool of assets and allowing for a faster, more efficient loading and downloading process. This training proves the two to be a combined operating force with a “fight together” mindset.

“In the air, we have focused on the same integration and interchangeability, with both Australian and USMC fighters flying tactically within the same formation,” said Lt. Col. Michael J. “Snooki” O'Brien, Commanding Officer of VMFA-314. “The already strong relationships at the section level between the RAAF and USMC are now being taken to the next level as we have gained significant sustainment efficiencies by working on each other's aircraft.”

The ability of the sister squadrons to successfully execute a multitude of combined operations across logistics, ordnance, maintenance, and flight operations is a testament to the strong relationships individual Marines and aviators are building on and off the flightline. Such capabilities, combined with deep-rooted military ties between the two nations, provide enduring warfighting readiness and regional security within the Indo-Pacific region.

CONNECT WITH USINDOPACOM

ENGAGE & CONNECT MORE WITH PACOM

                                                 

IN THE USINDOPACOM NEWS
Remains of Korean War Soldier to be buried in Wrightstown, New Jersey
June 13, 2024 - The remains of Army Pfc. Anthony J. Lopa, a Soldier killed during the Korean War, will be interred June 28 at Brig. Gen. William C. Doyle Veteran Memorial Cemetery, Wrightstown, New Jersey. Maxwell Funeral Home, Little Egg...

First Royal Australian Navy Enlisted Sailors Begin Training at U.S. Submarine School
United States Navy and Royal Australian Navy Sailors enrolled in the U.S. Naval Submarine School’s Basic Enlisted Submarine School pose for a photo between training sessions aboard the Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Connecticut, Jun. 11, 2024. 



These nine RAN Sailors are the first group of enlisted RAN Sailors to attend the U.S. Naval Submarine School as part of AUKUS (Australia, United Kingdom, United States) Pillar 1 Optimal Pathway, aimed at helping Australia acquire a conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarine fleet.



U.S. Navy photo by Lauren Laughlin
June 13, 2024 - GROTON, Conn.--The U.S. Naval Submarine School in Groton welcomed its first cadre of nine enlisted sailors and the second cadre of three officers from the Royal Australian Navy on June 3rd and 10th respectively. These 12...

Bersama Warrior 2024 first week wraps up with Mission Analysis Brief
Exercise Leadership receives a mission analysis brief as Bersama Warrior 2024 wrapped up their first week of the command post exercise, June 8, 2024 in Kuala Lupmur, Malaysia. (Courtesy Photo)
June 12, 2024 - Forty members of the Washington National Guard and their Malaysian Armed Forces counterparts wrapped up a successful first week of the Bersama Warrior 2024 staff exercise with a mission analysis brief on June 8, 2024, in...

U.S. Navy and Air Force special operations personnel conduct routine training in the Republic of Korea
A U.S. Air Force AC-130J Ghostrider gunship assigned to the 4th Special Operations Squadron from Hulburt Field, Fla. lands at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea (ROK) June 12, 2024. The Ghostrider and its crews are participating in a regularly scheduled joint, combined exchange and training (JCET) event designed to positively affect the combat readiness of special operations forces (SOF) personnel in support of the mutual defense of the U.S. and ROK homelands. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jacob Cabanero)
June 12, 2024 - U.S. Air Force personnel and an AC-130J Ghostrider gunship assigned to the 1st Special Operations Wing arrived in the Republic of Korea on June 12, 2024, in support of an ongoing joint, combined exchange training iteration...

3rd MLR conducts civil engagements and volunteers during summer exercise series
U.S. Marines with 3rd Littoral Combat Team, 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, paint a local school during the maritime key terrain security operations event of Balikatan 24 at Itbayat, Philippines, May 7, 2024. The event was conducted alongside Philippine Marines with Marine Battalion Landing Team 10. BK 24 is an annual exercise between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the U.S. military designed to strengthen bilateral interoperability, capabilities, trust, and cooperation built over decades of shared experiences. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Malia Sparks)
June 12, 2024 - In addition to enhancing their warfighting capabilities through bilateral military training, U.S. Marines and Sailors with 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, and Philippine Marines with 4th Marine Brigade,...