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.


Like Us
Follow Us



Mountain Dragons improve mission readiness during rotational deployment to Korea
American Soldiers from the Fort Drum, New York-based 59th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear (CBRN) Company (Hazardous Response) participate in the Advanced Chemical Biological Course on Camp Humphreys, South Korea. A mobile training team from the Special Programs Division on Dugway Proving Ground, Utah, conducted the course. Courtesy photo.
Feb. 9, 2024 - American Soldiers from a forward deployed U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear (CBRN) company improved their technical and tactical readiness during a nine-month rotational deployment to South Korea...

Japan, U.S. Army Conduct Cold Weather Training During North Wind 2024
U.S. Paratroopers from Blackfoot Company, 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade, 11th Airborne Division give a demonstration of sniper rifle marksmanship training on M110A1 Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper Systems to Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) members with 28th Infantry Regiment, 11th Brigade, Northern Army during North Wind 24, Jan. 25, 2024 on JGSDF Hokudai-en Training Area in Chitose, Hokkaido. On Jan. 24, 2024 both the JGSDF members and U.S. Paratroopers showed each other the standard operating procedures for their respective sniper teams to prepare for this live-fire training. North Wind is a bilateral cold-weather field training exercise held between the U.S. Army and JGSDF where the allies exchange tactics and techniques; this year’s exercise is the 31st North Wind.
Feb. 9, 2024 - A closing ceremony hosted by the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) Northern Army was held marking the completion of North Wind 2024 at Camp Higashi-Chitose, Jan. 31...

Philippines, US partner in Maritime Cooperative Activity in South China Sea
SOUTH CHINA SEA (Feb. 9, 2024) - The Philippine Navy ship BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PS-15) sails with the Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) during a maritime cooperate activity exercise in the South China Sea Feb. 9. The U.S. Navy and the Philippine Navy conducted the third iteration of the Maritime Cooperative Activity (MCA) in the South China Sea, reaffirming both nations’ commitment to bolstering regional security and stability. (Photo courtesy of the Armed Forces of the Philippines)
Feb. 9, 2024 - The U.S. Navy and the Philippine Navy (PN) conducted the third iteration of the Maritime Cooperative Activity (MCA) in the South China Sea, reaffirming both nations’ commitment to bolstering regional security and stability,...

U.S., Japan and Australia Conduct Trilateral Operations
SOUTH CHINA SEA (Feb. 7, 2024) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John Finn (DDG 113), sails with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ship JS Sazanami (DD 113) and Royal Australian Navy ship HMAS Warramunga (FFH 152) during trilateral operations in the South China Sea, Feb. 7. John Finn is forward-deployed and assigned to Commander, Task Force (CTF) 71/Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15, the Navy’s largest DESRON and the U.S. 7th Fleet’s principal surface force. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Justin Stack)
Feb. 8, 2024 - The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John Finn (DDG 113) and Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) conducted trilateral operations with allied maritime forces from the Japan...

Statement From Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III on a Helicopter Crash in California
Feb. 8, 2024 - We mourn the tragic loss of five U.S. Marines earlier this week during a training flight enroute from Nevada to California...