Trading Wings - From Australian F/A-18 Hornet To U.S. F-22 Raptor
by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Sergio A. Gamboa
May 29, 2019
Many children around the world dream of becoming an air force
pilot. The dream was no different for one young boy from Sydney,
Australia, but it didn’t come easy for him.
“I always wanted
to join the Air Force,” said Royal Australian Air Force Flight Lt.
Paul 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.”
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.
The military personnel
exchange program dates back to World War II. The 90th Fighter
Squadron, now at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, along with
the RAAF, developed the program where an Australian pilot is
embedded with the 90th FS 'Dicemen' ... learns their mission and
becomes one of them.
“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.”
February 28, 2019 - Royal Australian Air Force Flight Lt. Paul Anderton, an F-22 Raptor pilot with the 90th Fighter Squadron, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, stands in front of a Raptor at Geelong, Victoria, Australia. Anderton is at the 90th FS as part of the military personnel exchange program where U.S. and foreign military pilots are embedded with counterpart units to share best practices and work closely with one another. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Sergio A. Gamboa)
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.
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.
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
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
“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