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Program 1.4 - Air Force Capabilities

The Royal Australian Air Force provides immediate and responsive air power options for the Government. Although technology continues to evolve, its mission remains constant—to maintain control of the air; conduct precision strikes; undertake intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; provide air mobility; and ensure force protection.

The Air Force provided support to both global and regional operations during the year. The wide range of its operations included Australian border protection, operations in the Middle East and support to the Bundaberg floods. In the Middle East, the C-130 Hercules detachment celebrated two milestones: 10 years of continuous deployment and more than 29,000 flying hours. In late 2012, the AP-3C Orion Middle East detachment returned to Australia after nearly 10 years on operations and 22,535 flying hours.

The modernisation of the Air Force fleet continued. The fleet of 24 F/A-18F Super Hornet aircraft completed more than 10,000 flying hours and achieved Final Operating Capability, as did the Vigilare Command and Control System. The KC-30A Multi Role Tanker Transport and E-7A Wedgetail fleets both achieved Initial Operating Capability. The Air Force took delivery of its sixth C-17A aircraft and Number 35 Squadron was re-established in preparation for the arrival of the C-27J Spartan battlefield airlifter in 2015.

The Government announced that 12 EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft would be purchased. After 34 years of service and 244,613 flying hours, the last C-130H Hercules transport aircraft was withdrawn from service in 2012.

The people of the Air Force—permanent, reserve and civilian—manage the strategy, operations, logistics, and support that make air power possible. In 2012, the Air Force New Horizon initiative, which lays the foundations for cultural reform within the Air Force, was launched. The removal of gender restrictions began in January 2013, with all Air Force roles opening up to female applicants.

The Air Force's continued implementation of enduring reform, including change programs supporting the development of cost-conscious behaviours, enabled it to deliver savings while meeting operational tasking, preparedness, and safety and airworthiness requirements.

Table 3.13 - Program 1.4 deliverables

Table 3.13 - Program 1.4 deliverables
Deliverable Status
Prepare, sustain and lead assigned forces in operations to deliver air power to meet government requirements Met
Maintain preparedness of Air Force capability as directed by the CDF Met
Be prepared for future credible contingencies and in consultation with the Capability Development Group and the DMO, continue to plan, develop, and monitor the delivery of, and transition to, new capability Met
Provide air power options to government by meeting directed preparedness requirements while minimising expenditure Met
Provide accurate and timely advice to the Government, the CDF and the Secretary Met
Deliver Air Force-specific reform and savings, without compromising capability safety or airworthiness Substantially Met
Engage with government, the public, international partners, Defence groups, industry, other stakeholders and Air Force members to maximise achievement of all outputs Met

Table W3.14: Program 1.4 deliverables-flying hours

Table W3.14: Program 1.4 deliverables-flying hours
Deliverable Status Comment
63 PC9 17,852 hrs Substantially met 89% (15,927.5 hrs) achieved. Underachievement was due to sustainment funding pressures, reduced flying-training student throughput and some constraints in deeper maintenance capacity, which had an impact on short-term airframe availability.
16 B300 King Air 350 11,400 hrs Met 91% (10,406.7 hrs) achieved. Underachievement was due to sustainment funding pressures.
12 C-130J Hercules 7,350 hrs Met 103% (7,578.5 hrs) achieved. Overachievement was due to operational tasking.
12 C-130H Hercules 900 hrs [0 hours][1][2] Met 100% (903.1 hrs) achieved. The aircraft were withdrawn from service. Overachievement was due to tasking commitments made before the withdrawal announcement and the ability to adjust task management across the reduced Air Lift fleets.
6 C-17A Globemaster III 4,800 hrs Met 92% (4,425.8 hrs) achieved. Underachievement was due to sustainment funding pressures, tasking and two aircraft upgrades. Tasking included short domestic sectors, periods of inactivity such as static air show displays and lengthy standby periods.
6 KC-30A 2,950 hrs Substantially met 72% (2,121.2 hrs) achieved. Underachievement was due to a combination of reduced air logistic support tasking, regular aircraft pod unserviceability, remediation of the aircraft cargo bay structure and sustainment funding pressures.
2 B737 BBJ 1,600 hrs Met 86% (1,376.3 hrs) achieved. Underachievement was primarily due to shorter sector duration VIP tasking.
3 CL604 Challenger 2,403 hrs Met 94% (2,260.7 hrs) achieved. Underachievement was primarily due to shorter sector duration VIP tasking.
18 AP-3C Orion 7,900 hrs Substantially met 91% (7,166.1 hrs) achieved. Underachievement was due to sustainment funding pressures and operational requirements, primarily Operation RESOLUTE search and rescue activities.
6 E-7A Wedgetail 2,800 hrs Substantially met 87% (2,444.2 hrs) achieved. Underachievement was due to sustainment funding pressures and less than planned aircraft and crew availability.
71 F/A-18A/B Hornet 13,000 hrs Met 94% (12,251.1 hrs) achieved. Underachievement was due to sustainment funding pressures and the availability of senior aircrew, instructors and supervisors.
24 F/A-18F Super Hornet 4,800 hrs Substantially met 96% (4,584.9 hrs) achieved. Underachievement was due to sustainment funding pressures, capability introduction challenges, the immaturity of logistic support system impacting spares availability and thus aircraft availability, and a lack of senior aircrew and supervisors.
33 Hawk 1277,500 hrs Partially met 71% (5,306.6 hrs) achieved. Underachievement was due to sustainment funding pressures and engine problems affecting aircraft availability.
Notes
  1. Where figures were updated in the Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements 2012-13, the Portfolio Budget Statements 2012-13 estimate is shown in brackets.
  2. The increase of the C-130 Hercules rate of effort was made to satisfy tasking requirements (Operations CATHEDRAL and RESOLUTE) and complete critical capability development prior to retirement.

Table W3.15: Program 1.4 key performance indicators

Table W3.15: Program 1.4 key performance indicators
Key performance indicator Status Comment
Achieve levels of preparedness as directed by the Chief of the Defence Force Substantially met The Air Force continued to meet this key performance indicator overall. There were some areas of reduced preparedness caused by a variety of factors, each with a mitigating strategy in place.
Achieve a level of training that maintains core skills and professional standards across all outputs Substantially met The Air Force continued to demonstrate high professional standards and maintain core skills across fundamental capabilities. Operational commitments required some training to be emphasised at the expense of some roles judged unlikely to be required in the near term.
Transition to new capability systems Met The transition to new capability systems generally progressed in accordance with capability system plans, with all planned significant milestones to new capability systems achieved.
Grow the cost-conscious culture Substantially met Cost-conscious behaviours across all facets of Air Force operations were evident in the extent of enduring organisational reform. The change to a cost-conscious culture will take time, but the program's momentum continued.
Provide timely, accurate and considered advice that meets CDF, Secretary and government requirements Met The Air Force met this key performance indicator.