Author Topic: Lockheed-Martin F-35B in RNZAF service  (Read 4481 times)

Offline KiwiZac

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Lockheed-Martin F-35B in RNZAF service
« on: December 11, 2011, 06:02:44 PM »
By 2012 the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) was looking to replace its fleet of Lockheed-Martin F-16K Weta aircraft, due to spares shortages, powerplant issues and a high accident rate which saw nearly 40% of the fleet lost in crashes. The leading contender for replacement was the Lockheed-Martin F-35 Lightning II, specifically the V/STOL F-35B. The Government placed an order for twenty of the B model, with the first two aircraft arriving in 2015. Currently the fleet operates in two squadrons: 75 at Ohakea in the central North Island, and 2 at Wigram in the South Island.

The F-35B operates with the RNZAF in the fighter-bomber role. The standard mission loadout is six Mk.82 bombs (three under each wing) and a pair of AIM-9L Sidewinder air-to-air missiles. Maverick air-to-surface missiles may also be carried on the inboard triple-pylons. For long-range maritime/coastal patrols the F-35B is equipped with two Sidewinders on the outer pylons, and two 426 gallon drop tanks, allowing a single aircraft to scout the entire coastline of New Zealand, as well as operate as far afield as Norfolk and Chatham Islands. For the dedicated air superiority role the AIM-120 AMRAAM can be carried in addition to the Sidewinder, although the RNZAF reportedly has a very limited stock of the advanced (and very expensive) AIM-120. Standard AMRAAM fit would likely be four weapons carried on the exterior pylons.

The RNZAF rarely utilises the internal weapons bay, preferring to use this for special additional fuel tanks of an undisclosed capacity. The “missionized” GAU-22/A cannon is occasionally carried by the RNZAF aircraft, but reports have been heard of an F-35A-style internal setup being designed by the RNZAF engineering corps.

The aircraft of 75Sqn are primarily utilised for maritime patrol, and hence are painted in a special blue-grey camouflage. 2Sqn personnel are highly trained in air-to-ground weapons delivery, and as a result are an Attack squadron – their twelve aircraft are all painted in overall Dark Green.

75Sqn machines are rarely all at RNZAF Ohakea, as rostered deployments see pairs of aircraft based at different airports around the country for month-long assignments. These deployment locations vary, with every field with a sealed runway less than 10km from the coast having seen use by a deployment at least once. Four pairs of aircraft are deployed at a time, with the remaining four squadron aircraft operating out of Ohakea. 75Sqn also act the role of “bad guy” during Royal New Zealand Navy exercises for which an “attacking aircraft” is required.

2Sqn’s aircraft are all housed at RNZAF Wigram, with exceptions for exercises or active deployments.

The F-35B has yet to be proven in combat with the RNZAF, although the type can lay claim to a “kill”: a North Korean surveillance vessel, which had been impounded for breaching fishing limits, was sunk on June 11 2018 by two F-35Bs of 2Sqn.

I hope to refine and extend this further as time and ideas allow. Please watch this space :-)

Offline Tophe

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Re: Lockheed-Martin F-35B in RNZAF service
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2011, 06:07:36 PM »
Thanks to remind us the events of 2018, it was so long ago, all of us have forgotten...   :)

Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: Lockheed-Martin F-35B in RNZAF service
« Reply #2 on: December 25, 2011, 07:46:29 AM »
I would love to see some profiles to support this story...hint, hint...
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