Two US Marine Corps (USMC) pilots have flown a pair of Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Lockheed Martin F-35As to demonstrate the tight connections between the two forces.

The flights took place on 13 June, with a pair of USMC F-35B pilots flying two RAAF F-35As, says the US Indo-Pacific Command.

USMC Pilot Australian F-35A

Source: US Indo-Pacific Command

USMC F-35B pilot Lieutenant Colonel Robert Guyette at home in an RAAF F-35A

The event occurred during a recent visit by USMC squadron VMFA-214 to RAAF Tindal for the Diamond Storm exercise. The two USMC pilots involved were the unit’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Cololnel Robert Guyette, and Major John Rose.

“Interoperability is two different organisations figuring out ways to work together; interchangeability means the entire allied F-35 force can pool parts, maintainers, weapons, tactics – and now pilots and aircraft – to accomplish any mission,” says Guyette.

“Our formations are completely blended, and our pilots pull the same lessons learned from this incredibly realistic training,” says Guyette.

“When the [executive officer] and I flew in the RAAF F-35As, we spent zero time briefing procedural differences in execution, because we have been adhering to the same standards as the RAAF from day one.”

The RAAF and USMC put on another demonstration in May, when an Airbus Defence & Space A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport of the RAAF provided air-to-air refuelling support for two VMFA-214 F-35Bs as they deployed from Yuma, Arizona to Australia.

Overall, eight USMC F-35Bs and 200 personnel deployed to Australia for training work with the RAAF.

The US military has a growing presence in Northern Australia owing to increasing geopolitical tensions in the region driven by China.

The USMC conducts regular rotations through Australia’s northern city of Darwin to hone interoperability between Australian and US forces.


On 8 July the Australian Department of Defence announced that it will acquire an unspecified number of AeroVironment Switchblade 300 loitering munitions for the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

“With autonomous weapon systems increasingly prevalent, the Defence Strategic Review made clear that new technology and asymmetric advantage are important priorities,” says minister for defence industry Pat Conroy.

“That’s why the government is taking action to enhance the ADF’s use of drones. The delivery of this proven precision loitering munition demonstrates the speed at which we are introducing capabilities to the ADF.”