Squadrons of fighter jets rumbling over Sydney and Melbourne in recent days have left locals mystified – but they’re about to get more frequent in Victoria.
State-of-the-art F-35A Lighting II aircraft, made by Lockheed Martin, roared over Melbourne on Friday, rattling windows and causing locals to look towards the skies.
This was followed on Monday by 14 jets flying over the city in formation, including nine T-50 Golden Eagle supersonic fighters made by Korea Aerospace Industries.
Sydney also wasn’t immune to the wild noises when last Tuesday around midday, the same jets appeared over the Harbour City.
But there is a simple explanation – with both models of aircraft featuring at the Australian International Airshow being held at Avalon Airport in Victoria this week.
F-35A Lighting II aircraft, made by Lockheed Martin, roared over Melbourne in preparation for the Australian International Airshow opening on February 28
The fighters are considered among the most technologically advanced in the world
One of the F-35As, each worth more than $70million, flying over the Melbourne coastline on Friday
The Defence and industry portion of the exposition runs from February 28 until March 5, with the airshow opening to the general public from March 3 to March 5.
Flyovers are expected to significantly ramp up over the next week.
The T-50s are from the Republic Of Korea Air Force’s (ROKAF) Black Eagles aerobatic team and are known for their distinctive black, white and yellow paint.
In a statement, the RAAF explained that the stunt was in preparation for the 2023 Australian International Airshow and is the Black Eagles first visit to Australia.
The fighter jets followed a route that took them from Avalon in the city’s north-west, along the Bass Coast and back to Port Phillip Heads.
The demonstration’s final leg was over Melbourne’s CBD, before the allies returned to Avalon airport.
The similar stunt in Sydney caused locals to ask: ‘Why are there extremely noisy fighter jets flying over Sydney?’
While another labelled them as ‘deafening’.
The F-35A Lighting II belong to Australia’s air force, with the RAAF having about 59 of the 72 it has ordered from Lockheed Martin – the biggest fleet outside of the US.
Lockheed is hoping to deliver more F-35 fighter planes to Australia but is waiting for the outcome of the Australian government’s defence strategic review, an executive said on Tuesday.
‘We hope for the opportunity to deliver additional F-35s beyond (the 72 on order),’ Executive Vice President of Aeronautics business, Greg Ulmer, told reporters.
Lockheed has had initial talks with Australia about teaming the F-35 with the uncrewed Boeing Ghost Bat fighter drone but no decision has been made, Ulmer said.
The Royal Korean Air Force team roared over Melbourne last Monday afternoon – mystifying many locals who were unaware the stunt was taking place
The F-35As (pictured) will eventually replace the F/A-18 Hornets owned by the RAAF
The Korean Black Eagles aerobatic team fly distinctive black, white and yellow planes
Australia’s other well-known fighter jets, the F/A-18 Super Hornet made by Boeing, is expected to end production in late 2025 after a final delivery to the US Navy.
Production of the plane could be stretched out to 2027 if India places an order, the company said.
The first F/A-18 debuted in 1983 and was built by McDonnell Douglas, which merged with Boeing in 1997.
The company said it will continue to develop upgrades to the current fleet of F/A-18 Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers. The latter is a carrier-based electronic version of the jet, which Australia also has a fleet of.
The Super Hornet featured prominently in the 2022 movie Top Gun: Maverick, with Cruise reprising his role from the 1980s movie about a Navy pilot.
The sequel got positive reviews and was among the highest-grossing movies of last year.
More than 2,000 Hornets, Super Hornets and Growlers have been delivered to the US military and the governments of many allies, including Australia, Canada, Finland and Malaysia.
Boeing said ending F/A-18 production will let it focus on future military aircraft, both crewed and uncrewed, and increase production of other defence projects.
The company said it plans to build three new facilities in St Louis, where the F/A-18s are assembled.