“Pigs” Fly for the Last Time
(Source: Australian Department of Defence; issued Dec. 3, 2010)
A Royal Australian Air Force F-111 strike fighter performs a final “dump’n’burn” maneuver to mark the retirement of the fleet. (RAAF photo)
The iconic F-111 aircraft will take to the skies for the last time as it is farewelled today.
Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare said the farewell of the F-111s was a significant moment in Australia’s military aviation history.
“For nearly four decades, the supersonic, long-range F-111s have protected Australian skies,” Mr Clare said. “The F-111 is affectionately known as the 'Pig' for its ability to hunt at night with its nose in the weeds, thanks to its terrain-following radar.
“It could fly at two-and-a-half times the speed of sound at high altitudes, providing a strategic deterrent that protected Australia in uncertain times. No 6 Squadron is the last F-111 squadron still operating in the world.
“Today we say our final goodbye to this iconic aircraft and thank the dedicated people who flew and maintained it for their service of our nation.”
Mr Clare said that 24 Super Hornets are being acquired to maintain Australia’s air combat capability edge until the introduction of the Joint Strike Fighter.
“We have already taken delivery of the first eleven Super Hornets,” Mr Clare said. “The next four will land here at Amberley next week.”
Mr Clare also paid tribute to those who had lost their lives in F-111 accidents and those who died or had suffered serious health effects associated with the fuel tank upgrade program.
“The Australian Government offers its sincere apology for the harm you have suffered as a result of your work, and will make sure you receive treatment and support.” (ends)
DSTO’S Solutions Kept F-111 Soaring
(Source: Australian Department of Defence; issued December 3, 2010)
As Australia’s F-111 fleet retires, the Minister for Defence Science & Personnel, Warren Snowdon, praised the significant contribution made by the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO).
“DSTO has supported every aspect of the operation and maintenance of Australia’s
F-111 fleet, particularly since 1998 when Australia became the sole operator of the aircraft in the world.
“The repair and modification solutions developed by DSTO have ensured the safe and economical operation of the F-111 well beyond the manufacturer’s use-by date,” Mr Snowdon said.
“This has resulted in saving many millions of tax-payer dollars by increasing the aircraft’s availability and providing the Australian Defence Force with findings that go toward supporting present and future aircraft,” he said.
DSTO has provided advice covering the F-111’s airframes and engines, weapons and stores, electronic warfare and signature management, and platform information systems.
DSTO was key in developing solutions to problems with manufacturing defects in the Wing Carry Through Box, Upper Wing Pivot Fitting cracking, and Outer Lower Wing Skin cracking. Solutions included composite bonded repairs and the re-shaping of components to strengthen points of weakness.
Significant fatigue testing of replacement F-111 wings found that all wings in the fleet had sufficient durability to safely reach the RAAF’s planned withdrawal date.
“In providing support for the F-111 fleet, DSTO has developed many capabilities which have put the organisation at the forefront of the international aircraft structural integrity community.”
“These capabilities will be crucial in supporting new platforms such as the Joint Strike Fighter and Wedgetail aircraft,” Mr Snowdon said. (ends)
Boeing Marks Retirement of Royal Australian Air Force F-111 Fleet
(Source: Boeing Co.; issued December 2, 2010)
AMBERLEY, Queensland --- The Boeing Company will bid a fond farewell to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) F-111 strike fighters that the company has supported for more than 14 years when the fleet is retired on Dec. 3.
As prime contractor for F-111 through-life support activities since 1996, Boeing Defence Australia has designed, developed and delivered technologies and modifications to improve the operational effectiveness of the F-111 fleet from its facilities at RAAF Base Amberley. These upgrades included aircraft overhauls conducted under the F-111 Weapons System Business Unit (WSBU) contract.
Awarded to Boeing in 2001, the WSBU contract was the largest contract awarded by the Commonwealth of Australia at the time and covered all major upgrades to the fleet's airframe, avionics and weapons systems, including:
-- providing airframe maintenance from R1 (basic level) through R5 (deeper level)
-- providing system analysis, design, modification and testing
-- designing and integrating software and hardware to support the AGM-142 missile, the longest range air-to-ground missile available within the Australian Defence Force
-- modifying radar warnings.
Additional programs and facilities that Boeing has operated in support of the fleet include a fuel tank repair program, a coldproof load test facility, an F-111 ground test team, and a wing recovery program.
"Over the years, hundreds of Boeing employees have played a vital role in maintaining the operational effectiveness of the F-111 fleet and some, like me, have an even longer history with the platform after working on them during our time in the RAAF," said Ian Gabriel, F-111 program manager, Boeing Defence Australia. "On behalf of all Boeing personnel who supported the aircraft, it has been a privilege to have played a part in the rich military history of the F-111."
"Throughout Boeing's long association with the F-111, we've forged strong relationships with the RAAF, our supplier partners and the local Ipswich community," said John Duddy, vice president and managing director, Boeing Defence Australia. "This could not have been achieved without the consistency and commitment of the Boeing personnel who have worked on the platform, and I thank them all. As the F-111 retires and we enter a new generation of Australian air defense through the F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, Boeing looks forward to continuing to work with the RAAF to help protect Australia and its people."
Boeing Defence Australia, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Boeing Company and a business unit of Boeing Defense, Space & Security, is a leading Australian aerospace enterprise. With a world-class team of more than 1,500 employees at 14 locations throughout Australia and two international sites, Boeing Defence Australia supports some of the largest and most complex defense projects in Australia.
A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is one of the world's largest defense, space and security businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world's largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is a $34 billion business with 68,000 employees worldwide.