This week, US Marine Corps F-35C Lightning II aircraft flew from California to Australia for the first time for regional training and operations. Four aircraft from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 314, Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 11, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW) departed from Corps Air Station from Miramar, California. They arrived at Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Williamtown, New South Wales.
The fighters flew a total of approximately 7,800 miles, making four stops en route. They were supported in transporting cargo and personnel by a US Marine Corps KC-130J Super Hercules from Marine Air Refueling Transport Squadron (VMGR) 352, MAG-11, 3rd MAW, and supported by the refueling by US Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft from the 171st Air Refueling Wing, Pennsylvania Air National Guard, and the 108th Air Refueling Wing, New Jersey Air National Guard.
“The Black Knights of VMFA-314 are beyond excited to fly the first land-based I MEF fifth-generation stealth fighters from California to Australia. Over the past year, we’ve trained on our own Marine Corps F-35Cs with the Royal Australian Air Force’s F-35As and E-7 Wedgetails in the US, and now it’s time to train with our valued allies on their side of the globe,” said Lt. Col. Michael O’Brien, Commanding Officer, VMFA-314.
VMFA-314 trained with No. 3 Squadron RAAF and their F-35As in Hawaii in December 2022 during exercise Pacific Edge 23. The two units also trained together in the Naval Air Station Joint Simulation Environment from Patuxent River, Maryland, in February 2023.
Detachment VMFA-314 is scheduled to conduct unit-level and bilateral integrated training at RAAF Base Williamtown until mid-July.
“This move and the upcoming training demonstrate not only the force mobilization capability of the F-35C, but also the advanced state of tactical and logistical interoperability between the RAAF and the USMC. We have a long history of security cooperation dating back to World War II, and we are now focused on strengthening our relationship while integrating our most capable and state-of-the-art platforms,” O’Brien said.
The Marines and aircraft of VMFA-314 are the first elements of a larger contingent of the US Marine Corps I Marine Expeditionary Force, based in San Diego, California, whose arrival is scheduled for training in the region.
U.S. Marine Corps F-35C Lightning II aircraft from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 314, Marine Aircraft Group 11, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, land at Royal Air Force Base Williamtown Australian Air Force (RAAF), New South Wales, Australia. The arrival of VMFA-314 at RAAF Base Williamtown marks the beginning of a series of unit-level and bilateral training events designed to enhance US-Australia relations and further develop and sustain capabilities in the Indo-Pacific region.
US Marine Corps