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Reactivated UK, Australian Air Force Squadron to Collaborate on F-35 Mission Programming

Reactivated UK, Australian Air Force Squadron to Collaborate on F-35 Mission Programming

The United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force have reactivated No. 80 Squadron, a historic unit for both service branches, to cooperate on mission data file programming for their respective F-35 variants’ warfighting capabilities. The RAF’s Squadron 80 traces back to World War I in 1917 but went inactive in 1969, while its RAAF counterpart was formed during World War II in 1943 and was dissolved in 1946.

The U.S. Air Force Materiel Command said the squadron, which also includes Royal Navy sailors, will work through the Australia Canada United Kingdom Reprogramming Laboratory, or ACURL, at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. USAF and other U.S. allies also collaborate in the laboratory to assess and leverage the F-35’s electromagnetic capability to identify, pinpoint and counter threats.

In a separate statement, the RAF said that the multimillion-dollar joint military data center seeks to provide operational advantage to the F-35s of Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom. The laboratory’s specialists compile and test the mission data file sets gathered onboard the stealth fighter along with information from the aircraft’s sensors that indicates information a pilot needs to make real-time decisions.

“Colocation of the whole F-35 reprogramming enterprise at Eglin AFB provides a unique opportunity to integrate with our closest F-35 partners to the fullest extent,” Air Chief Marshal Rich Knighton said.

“It’s an opportunity that wouldn’t exist if we were at home alone.”

Close to 400 F-35s are expected to be built for the U.S. military and Foreign Military Sales partners under a $30 billion contract finalized by the jet’s manufacturer, Lockheed Marin.

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