skip to navigation skip to content skip to footer

RAAF Base Williamtown and Salt Ash Air Weapons Range

Air Force is proud of its long association with the Hunter Region. RAAF Base Williamtown was formed on 15 February 1941.

Located 30 kilometres north of Newcastle, RAAF Base Williamtown is Australia’s premier fighter pilot training base and this will continue with the introduction of the F-35A Lightning II aircraft.

It is the home base for the tactical fighter element of Air Combat Group (ACG) and the airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) element of Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group (SRG).

The following squadrons/units are based at Williamtown:

  • Number 26 (City of Newcastle) Squadron
  • Number 3 Squadron (3SQN) operating F/A-18A/B Hornet aircraft
  • Number 77 Squadron (77SQN) operating F/A-18A/B Hornet aircraft
  • Number 2 Squadron Operational Conversion Unit (2OCU) operating F/A-18A/B Hornet aircraft
  • Number 76 Squadron (76SQN) operating Hawk 127 aircraft
  • Number 4 Squadron (4SQN) operating PC-9/A Forward Air Control aircraft
  • Number 2 Squadron (2SQN) operating E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning control aircraft
  • Number 2 Squadron Expeditionary Health Squadron
  • Number 453 Squadron (453SQN) Headquarters
  • Number 381 Combat Response Squadron
  • Number 278 Squadron

Newcastle Airport operates from RAAF Base Williamtown under a lease with the Department of Defence.

Front gates at RAAF Base Darwin

The main entrance to RAAF Base Williamtown

Salt Ash Air Weapons Range

RAAF Base Williamtown is responsible for the Salt Ash Air Weapons Range (SAAWR) which is located approximately 6km to the north-east of the base.

SAAWR is used for air-surface gunnery and bombing practice. The proximity of SAAWR to RAAF Base Williamtown makes it ideal for air-to-ground attack training of pilots.

The primary users of SAAWR are RAAF Base Williamtown Air Combat Group (ACG) Flying Squadrons which include F/A-18 A/B Hornets and the Hawk 127 in addition to the PC-9/A aircraft – Forward Air Control variant. 

Night flying can be conducted at the SAAWR until 9:00pm Eastern Standard Time (EST) and 10.30pm Eastern Standard Summer Time. Night flying is restricted to the minimum required to achieve training targets.

Under the Environmental Impact Statement for the Hawk 127 flying operations, SAAWR can be used on a rolling average for 115 days each year.