Military Aviation

F-22 pilot from Australia: from RAAF Hornet to USAF Raptor

“The transition from the aircraft was exciting and a challenge to do. There were definitely some similarities, like handling, but the Raptor’s performance, from the engine to what it can do is unmatched,” (RAAF) Flight Lt. Paul Anderton 90th FS F-22 Raptor pilot.

Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Flight Lt. Paul Anderton is an F-22 Raptor pilot with the 90th Fighter Squadron (FS) ‘Dicemen’ of the U.S. Air Force.

The 90th Fighter Squadron has welcomed pilots from Australia to be embedded with the unit since World War 2.

“I always wanted to join the Air Force,” said Flight Lt. Anderton. “I initially didn’t get selected to go to the [Royal Australian Air Force] academy, so I had to go to a university and work hard to make my dreams come true.”

As explained by Staff Sgt. Sergio Gamboa, Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs, in the article Trading wings: from Australian F/A-18 Hornet to U.S. F-22 Raptor, after joining the air force, Anderton became an F/A-18 Hornet pilot and went to weapons officer training course, where only a select few attend. Being a weapons officer brings new opportunities for pilots and for Anderton, it brought him to the U.S. Air Force (USAF).

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“I was humbled to get to do a job that is exclusive and blown away to be able to fly the F-22 Raptor,” said Anderton, now an exchange officer and F-22 Raptor pilot with the 90th FS. “I certainly like to think skill was involved with me coming here, but I was at the right place at the right time.”

Flying officer Edward Mobsby was the first Australian who became a Diceman in 1942. Since then, there has been an Australian pilot with the unit, and now Anderton has the privilege to be that pilot.

“Anderton has done incredibly well,” said Maj. Joshua Gunderson, F-22 pilot with the 90th FS. “We get some great quality from the pilots coming from Australia. They always send us their top-tier fighter pilots and we can’t thank them enough for that. Having him in the squadron every day has been very beneficial to us.”

Prior to becoming a Raptor pilot, Anderton spent eight years as a pilot on the Hornet garnering over 1,400 flying hours.

“The transition from the aircraft was exciting and a challenge to do,” he said. “There were definitely some similarities, like handling, but the Raptor’s performance, from the engine to what it can do is unmatched. It’s unbelievable what this jet can do.

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“I didn’t realize how many things I have taken for granted,” added Anderton. “Flying the Hornet had become second nature to me. I didn’t have that familiarity with the [F-22], and it was a learning curve getting to know it. Now I’m certainly feeling comfortable with it.”

With more than a century of mateship, the exchange program and other events help build on the relationship the U.S. and Australia have.

Most recently, three 90th FS pilots, including Anderton, their maintenance crew and two F-22’s participated at the 2019 Australian International Aerospace & Defence Exposition and Airshow (AVALON 2019) at Geelong, Victoria, Australia, from Feb. 26 to March 3, 2019.

“The program and airshow strengthens the relationship,” said Anderton. “Our [RAAF] tactics, techniques and procedures mirror the U.S. Air Force and ultimately means that when we fly as a coalition, we understand each other and learn the same lessons.”

Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Sergio A. Gamboa and Staff Sgt. Alexander Martinez / U.S. Air Force

Artwork courtesy of AircraftProfilePrints.com

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