Royal Australian Air Force
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The Royal Australian Air Force is one of the oldest air forces of the world. In March 1914 the Australian Flying Corps was established. On March 31st, 1921 the Australian Air Force was established as independent part of the Australian defence. Over the last couple of years the order of battle is quite stable. The only major change took place end 1989/early 1990 when all helicopters were transferred to the Australian Army Aviation Corps. To be able to defend Australia against foreign attacks the RAAF opened several so called bare bases. During the '90s the last one was opened along the northern coast. These bases consist out of a runway, taxi-ways and a limited number of shelters and buildings. Usually no aircraft can be found here except during exercises. 

Modernisation programs of the RAAF are indicated as "Project Air". Currently several of these projects are underway. Some focus on software or equipment updates for existing aircraft and helicopters. But others have to sole purpose to introduce new types into service. Recent Aircraft types to enter RAAF service are 33 BAE Hawk Mk 127 Lead-In-Fighter. These Jets are fully operational and Australia's first students to complete fast jet training purely on the Hawk Lead-in-Fighter aircraft graduated from the F/A-18 operational conversion course in June 2002. Project Air 5216 Phase 1 acquired 12 C-130J-30 aircraft to replace the ageing  C-130E fleet that was operated by the RAAF  No 37 Squadron from 1966 until 2001. These new C-130J-30 represent a major boost for the RAAF airlift capability. The RAAF are also leasing two Boeing BBJ, which made it's debut before the public on June 26, 2002. Canberra-based 34 Squadron will operate two BJJs under lease managed by Quantas Defence Services. The RAAF has signed a contract with Boeing worth more than a $1 billion dollars for four 737 AEW&C systems plus options for up to three other systems.
Wedgetail is a 737 airborne early warning & control (AEW&C) system providing airborne surveillance and command and control capability. Australia has also recently joined the JSF programme. Committing US$150 million over the ten-year system development and demonstration phase as a level three partner will enable the Australian aerospace industry to participate in the global development, production and support of the project. The RAAF also has a requirement for 12-18 tactical airlift aircraft by 2010 aircraft to replace the Caribou Aircraft. The RAAF's shortlist includes the CN-235,C-295 and C-27J Spartan. Australia has been briefed on the A400M as a potential C-130H replacement. Work is well underway with F/A-18 Hornet Upgrade Project with work on Stage 1 complete and Stage 2 underway which will see the introduction of the APG-73 radar. 

Aircraft of the Royal Australian Air Force :

Fighter/Attack Aircraft :

- F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

img4.jpg (28368 bytes) Australia has confirmed that it will formally join the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme. The Australian Government also decided that the JSF is the most likely aircraft to satisfy Australia's needs under Defence's $12 billion-plus AIR 6000 Project to replace its current fleets of F/A-18 Hornet and F-111 aircraft from 2012. Defence Minister Robert Hill said that Australia will soon become a Level 3 partner, investing A$300 million ($172 million) over 10 years in the system development and demonstration phase. THE Air Force is expected to choose the conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) version of the new Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) to enhance Australian air combat capabilities.

The rationale behind Australia's selection of JSF appears to be predominantly capability based, with the aircraft's late generation and readily upgradeable integrated avionics architecture and stealth characteristics seen as major advantages over competing designs.

- F/A-18A/B Hornet

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The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) F/A-18 Weapon System is a primary asset for Australia's air defence. The RAAF currently operates a fleet of 71 F/A-18A/B aircraft (55 A-single seat models and 16 B-dual seat models). Project AIR 5376, the Hornet Upgrade (HUG) Project, seeks to enhance the ability of the RAAF F/A-18 weapon system to carry out its Air Defence Strategic Concept tasks through to the expected Life of Type in 2015.

Phase 1 of the upgrade is near complete. Under this phase, the Hornets are being equipped with improved communication and navigation capabilities including a sixth avionics multiplex bus, new mission computers, a secure radio system, a global positioning system, enhanced Identification Friend or Foe system and the extension of the armament multiplex bus within the outer wing. This phase of the upgrade is scheduled for completion in June 2002.

The Royal Australian Air Force, or RAAF, has embarked on the second phase of the Hornet Upgrade Program. When the upgrade is complete, the RAAF A (single seat) and B (two seat) model F/A-18 Hornets will be comparable to the latest C and D model Hornets. Replacing the original APG-65 radar, the APG-73 significantly adds to the combat capability of the Hornet and gives the RAAF the ability to upgrade with new software. Incorporation of the APG-73 is scheduled to be complete in mid-2003.This is the most significant upgrade to the RAAF aircraft since the aircraft were delivered between 1985 and 1990.

- R/F-111C/G

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On October 24th, 1963 the Australian government announced the purchase of 24 F-111C Ardvarks. The first F-111C was handed over to the RAAF in September 1968 and that was the start of a lot of problems. Problems with the wing structure made the RAAF refuse to accept the aircraft and it took over three years, during which the RAAF leased 24 F-4E Phantoms from the USAF as a gap filler, before the first F-111C was accepted. On June 1st, 1973 the first six Ardvarks finally arrived in Australia and the last one was delivered on December 28th, 1973. End 1993/early 1994 the fleet was strengthened by 15 ex USAF F-111G Ardvarks.

All F-111Cs are Pave Tack (FLlR) capable, and provided with AIM-9M Sidewinders for self-protection ( at present the F-111G lack these features ). This capability will be enhanced by the introduction of the AGM-142 Raptor ,and the completion of a digital avionics upgrade (AUP) for the F-111C/RF-111C. The AUP is well underway, with the digital aircraft currently operated alongside the familiar F-111Gs. Australia is the last operator of the very capable 'Aardvark','Pig' F-111. They fly with No.1 Sqn and No.6 squadronof No.82 Wing, based at Amberley Air Force Base.

Boeing Australia Limited is the Prime Contractor for modifications and upgrades to the Royal Australian Air Force's fleet of F/RF-111C strike and reconnaissance aircraft. Boeing Australia has also recently partnered with the Commonwealth to sign the Weapons System Business Unit (WSBU) contract for the F-111 fleet. Under this 10-year agreement, Boeing Australia will be responsible for deeper-level airframe maintenance and associated through-life support activities. Boeing Australia has eight years of proven performance with the F-111 aircraft at RAAF Base Amberley and in the US with the F-111 Block Upgrade Program.  Current plans include an upgrade which will enable the RAAF to operate these bombers until at least 2020.

Trainer Aircraft :

- Hawk Mk 127

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The A$850 million Hawk Lead-in Fighter contract was signed in 1997 with design, development, manufacture and creation of the support infrastructure established in just three years. The Hawk Lead-in-Fighter aircraft entered service with the RAAF in October 2000.

In total, 33 Hawk Lead-in-Fighter aircraft were delivered to the RAAF: 18 Lead-in Fighters are based with the RAAF's No 76 Squadron at RAAF Williamtown, New South Wales; 14 aircraft are based with No 79 Squadron at RAAF Pearce, Western Australia; and the remaining aircraft is on loan to BAE SYSTEMS for completion of flight test instrumentation installation.

Australia's first students to complete fast jet training purely on the Hawk Lead-in-Fighter aircraft graduated from the F/A-18 operational conversion course in June 2002.

- PC-9 Turbo Trainer

raafpc9.jpg (74058 bytes) Ordered in the mid 80's to fill a gap in the RAAF's training program between the CT-4A's and the Aermacchi. The two seat PC-9 was selected over an Australian built and designed turbo prop trainer the A-10B ending the controversial history of the Australian Aircraft Consortium. The RAAF's Flying Training School (2FTS) at Pearce started their advanced training course with the PC-9 in 1989. The RAAF's display team the Roulettes has also traded their Macchi's for the
PC-9's. Some 69 of these advanced trainers would be ordered, but this was reduced to 67 on July 10 1986, when the contract was signed. The RAAF became the first customer to specify the advanced Electronic Flight Information System (EFIS) "glass" cockpit. The first RAAF aircraft,flew on May 19 1987. 

Transport Aircraft :

- DHC-4 Caribou

raafcaribou.jpg (64868 bytes) The A04 Caribou aircraft (also known as DHC-4 Caribou) currently performs both troop and cargo transport functions. The most cost-effective means of continuing to provide this light transport and tactical airlift capability for the ADF over the medium-long term is to extend the life of the ADF's Caribou aircraft for ten years. The acquisition of a replacement Light Tactical Airlift Capability (LTAC) will be considered at the end of this decade.

The RAAF has 14 Caribou transport aircraft that provide the capability to operate from short airfields with rough or soft surfaces. This project will extend the operation of the Caribou to 2010, from the previously planned withdrawal date of 2002/03. This project provides funds to cover increased maintenance costs associated with supporting a 35 year-old aircraft, and to cover costs associated with sustainment of engines and other aircraft equipment.

- C-130 E/H (J-30)Hercules

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The Royal Australian Air Force was the first overseas customer for the Hercules, buying 12 C-l30As in 1958.The original 12 C-130As were withdrawn from use in 1978 being replaced by 12 C-130Hs deliveries starting in 1978. Twelve C-13OEs were delivered starting in 1966. The new C-130Js have replaced the elderly C-130Es.

The Royal Australian Air Force's fleet of 12 new generation C-130J Hercules aircraft were formally accepted into operational service by the Chief of the Air Force, Air Marshal Angus Houston, at a ceremony Dec. 11 2001 in New South Wales, Australian. The C-130J has modern more powerful engines, new-generation propellers and avionics, head-up displays and an integrated avionics system that is software controlled. The C-130J-30 variant has a five metre fuselage extension that provides an additional 40% seating capacity and the ability to carry seven standard cargo pallets rather than five. Altogether, the new C-130J-30 provides a level of apability considerably greater than the C-130E or C-130H. The C-130J-30 is now fully integrated into the RAAF's Air Lift Group at Richmond, NSW.

- B-707/-338 C

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The RAAF uses five Boeing 707s. Four series 338Cs have tanker pods on the wings, while a single 368 is used solely as a transport. They are based at No.33 Squadron at Richmond.

Tankers were seen as essential by the RAAF to support the planned Hornet force, and a request for tender for the conversion of these aircraft was issued in October, 1987. Israel Aircraft Industries (JAI) won this $15 million contract for the tanker/transport conversion. The modification involved the installation of underwing pods for hose and drogue equipment.

- Boeing 737-7DF BBJ

raafbbj.jpg (127572 bytes) The RAAF are leasing two Boeing BBJ, which made it's debut before the public on June 26, 2002. Canberra-based 34 Squadron will operate two BJJs under lease managed by Quantas Defence Services. The BJJs provide ultra-long range travel from Australia to almost anywhere in the world.

The two BJJs, with slightly differing seating configurations, will be available for use by Australian VIPs. The RAAF Boeing BBJ is the first of it's type to be operated in the South Pacific region and is part of the Air Force's Special Purpose Aircraft fleet.

Support Aircraft :

- P-3C Orion / AP-3C Sea Sentinels

P3S666.jpg (82385 bytes) In November 1964 the RAAF selected ten P-3 Orion to replace the Neptunes of 11 Squadron at RAAF Base Richmond.The first was handed over to the Australians on January 10 1969. Over its years in service the P-3B Orion has seen great advances in technology, so various avionic improvement programs have been implemented. These modifications have resulted since January 1975 in the "Upgrade" designations.

The next major decision regarding the P-3 wing at Edinburgh was whether to upgrade the older P-3B model or replace them with more P-3Cs. Fortunately the latter course was chosen, and on June 29 1982 a contract was signed for ten new P-3Cs. The P-3C also introduced to service the Australian Barra passive sonobuoy system, and for search and surveillance missions was equipped with an infra-red detection system. Another improvement was the capability of launching the Harpoon air-to-surface missile (ASM) up to 100km from its target.

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Sea Sentinel Program upgrades and replaces older, heavier, less capable, insupportable sensors, avionics, and mission equipment of the P-3C aircraft. Under the RAAF Sea Sentinel Program, Raytheon Australia replaces the data management system, radar, acoustic processing system, navigation system, and communication systems.The modified AP-3C aircraft meets or exceeds all RAAF operational requirements. The Sea Sentinel Program significantly increases the airframe life, improves mission availability, provides state-of-the-art performance, and enables the aircraft to operate well into the 21st century with designed-in growth and supportability.

More than 3 years after the first aircraft was handed over for conversion, the RAAF is still awaiting the entry into service of its upgraded AP-3C Sentinel Orions. The 'prototype' aircraft entered conversion in November in November 1997 and made it's maiden flight on May 19, 1999. Five aircraft are currently held at Raytheon's Avalon facility, in various stages of modification, and the RAAF is refusing to release any more aircraft until the upgraded P-3s are returned to service.

- Boeing 737 AEW&C Wedge Tail

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Wedgetail is a 737 airborne early warning & control (AEW&C) system providing airborne surveillance and command and control capability. The Commonwealth of Australia awarded Boeing Space and Communications (S&C), a unit of The Boeing Company, a contract worth more than a $1 billion dollars for four 737 AEW&C systems plus options for up to three other systems. Boeing expects to deliver the first two aircraft in 2006.Australia has named Project Air 5077 "Wedgetail" after our native eagle.

combines the new high-performance Boeing 737-700 aircraft with the new technology Northrop Grumman Multi-role Electronically Scanned Array (MESA) radar. Included in the platform are an advanced Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) system; an expanded, passive electronic surveillance system; a flexible, open-system architecture and a highly effective self-defence capability. The 737-700 features state-of-the-art avionics, navigation equipment and flight deck.The MESA radar/ IFF is the critical sensor aboard the 737 AEW&C. The electronically scanned array is designed to provide optimal performance in range, tracking and accuracy. The radar is able to track air and sea targets simultaneously and can help the operator maintain control of high-performance aircraft while continuously scanning the operational area.

Sources :

RAAF Homepage                      
Australian Defence Department
Williamtown Air Base Page
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