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RAAF Base Williamtown and Salt Ash Air Weapons Range

Aircraft

RAAF Base Williamtown is home to the Hawk 127, the F/A-18A/B Hornet, the E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control  aircraft and the PC-9/A training aircraft. In the future, it will also be home to the F-35A Lightning II aircraft.

Hawk 127

The Hawk 127 is a tandem aircraft, primarily used for initial cost-effective fighter training to prepare aircrew for operational conversion to the F/A-18 Hornet multi-role fighter aircraft and the F-35A in the future. The Hawk 127 is operated by Number 76 Squadron at RAAF Base Williamtown under the command of Number 78 Wing.

Number 76 Squadron Introductory Fighter Course aerial display over RAAF Base Williamtown

Number 76 Squadron Introductory Fighter Course aerial display over RAAF Base Williamtown

F/A-18A/B Hornet

Air Force’s F/A-18A/B Hornet is a multi-role fighter which is flown by Number 3 Squadron, Number 77 Squadron and Number 2 Operational Conversion Unit at RAAF Base Williamtown.

A Number 3 Squadron F/A-18A/B Hornet takes to the skies above Newcastle and Port Stephens painted with a Red nose in support of a cure for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

A Number 3 Squadron F/A-18A/B Hornet takes to the skies above Newcastle and Port Stephens painted with a Red nose in support of a cure for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

E-7A Wedgetail

Number 2 Squadron - one of the oldest and most highly decorated squadrons in the Air Force - was reformed on 18 January 2000 to operate the E-7A Wedgetail.

In May 2010, Number 2 Squadron once again returned to the skies in the E-7A Wedgetail.aircraft.

The E-7A Wedgetail aircraft departs for the Middle East from RAAF Base Williamtown

The E-7A Wedgetail aircraft departs for the Middle East from RAAF Base Williamtown

PC-9/A Aircraft

The PC-9/A Forward Air Control (FAC) variant aircraft is flown by Number 4 Squadron. The Squadron employs Combat Controllers and undertakes the Australian Defence Force’s Joint Terminal Attack Controller course.

A Number 4 Squadron PC-9/A flies over the city of Newcastle in New South Wales

A Number 4 Squadron PC-9/A flies over the city of Newcastle in New South Wales

Helicopter

RAAF Williamtown CHC Search and Rescue provides the base with a local helicopter search and rescue capability. Its primary role is to support military aircraft in the unlikely event that aircrew need to be recovered quickly after ejecting from an aircraft.

A crew member from RAAF Base Williamtown CHC Search and Rescue helicopter service winches up a downed aircrew during a simulated crash exercise in the waters just off the coast of Nelson Bay in New South Wales

A crew member from RAAF Base Williamtown CHC Search and Rescue helicopter service winches up a downed aircrew during a simulated crash exercise in the waters just off the coast of Nelson Bay in New South Wales

Future Aircraft

F-35A Lightning II aircraft

Most of Australia’s new F-35A Lightning II aircraft will be based at RAAF Base Williamtown. Australia has committed to 72 F-35A aircraft – comprised of three operational squadrons - two at RAAF Base Williamtown and one at RAAF Base Tindal. In addition, a training squadron will be based at RAAF Base Williamtown.

The first F-35A aircraft will arrive in Australia in 2018 and the first squadron, Number 3 Squadron, will be operational in 2021.  All 72 aircraft are expected to be fully operational by 2023.

Work has commenced on around $1.5 billion in new facilities at RAAF Base Williamtown to support the introduction, operation and deployment of the F-35A Lightning II.

The F-35A is the most suitable aircraft for Australia’s future air combat and strike needs and will replace the current aging F/A-18A/B Hornets.

Air Force has developed flying operations for the F-35A which minimise potential noise impacts while meeting operational requirements. This includes procedural and flight path modifications to limit, to the greatest extent practicable, the noise impact on the surrounding population.

In the same way that F/A-18A/B Hornets currently deploy to bases around Australia, the F-35A will use RAAF Base Darwin and RAAF Base Townsville to conduct occasional short-term flying operations such as military training exercises. RAAF Base Pearce (Western Australia), RAAF Base Edinburgh (South Australia) and RAAF Base Amberley (Queensland) will also support short-term flying operations of the F-35A aircraft, but will be used less frequently.

The public consultation process for the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for flying operations of the F-35A has concluded. Visit http://www.f35evolution.com.au/lib/pdf/ENAUABTF1446_Factsheet3_v2.pdf to view the approval decision for the final EIS or Environmental Impact Statement for the F-35A Lightning II for general information about the F-35A. Defence thanks all those who have participated in the public consultation process. 

The first Royal Australian Air Force F-35A Lightning II successfully taking flight from Fort Worth, Texas on Monday, 29 September 2014

The first Royal Australian Air Force F-35A Lightning II successfully taking flight from Fort Worth, Texas on Monday, 29 September 2014