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Annual Report 2013-14

Volume 1, Part 2 : Performance

Program 1.4: Air Force Capabilities


The Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Geoff Brown, AO, is responsible and accountable to the CDF for the command of the Air Force and delivers Air Force capability for the defence of Australia and its interests.
This encompasses the effective and efficient delivery of aerospace capability, enhancing the Air Force’s reputation and positioning the Air Force for the future. He is also Defence’s principal aerospace adviser
on strategic matters.


The Air Force provides air and space power for Australia’s security, and proved more than capable of responding to a wide spectrum of events in 2013–14.

The year provided a range of unique operational challenges for the Air Force, starting with the drawdown of Australian forces from Uruzgan Province in Afghanistan. C-130J and C-17A aircraft conducted up to 30 flights per week, lifting vehicles, personnel and equipment out of the country. Air Force security and base command personnel completed their final rotation providing security, infrastructure and utilities at Multinational Base Tarin Kot. In 2014, the Heron remotely piloted aircraft reached 20,000 operational flying hours since operations began in Afghanistan.

After a cyclone in the Philippines, the Air Force was called upon to transport emergency personnel from Australia to the devastated region, as well as cyclone-affected passengers within the Philippines. At the request of the United Nations, the Air Force helped deliver much-needed aid to South Sudan in the midst of a civil war. The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 resulted in Australia’s largest maritime search off the west coast of Australia, where AP-3C Orions and an E-7A Wedgetail were at the forefront of the international search effort.

Despite constant operational demands, the Air Force continued its demanding exercise and training schedule at home and abroad. During exercises such as the East Coast Air Defence Exercise, Aces North and Red Flag,
F/A-18A/B Hornets and F/A-18F Super Hornets flew more than 15,000 training hours in the skies above Australia and the United States.

Air Force people continued to perform with dedication and integrity, which earned them a host of Australia Day honours and international commendations for their efforts at home and abroad. The Air Force intelligence community celebrated its 50th anniversary at RAAF Base Edinburgh.

The 2013–14 financial year included a number of developments in future capability:

  • The Government announced that a combination of P-8A Poseidon and MQ-4C Triton unmanned aerial systems will replace the AP-3C Orion.
  • Australia’s commitment to the Joint Strike Fighter Project continued. At least 72 F-35A Lightning II aircraft will eventually enter RAAF service.
  • In Italy, the first RAAF C-27J Spartan launched on its maiden flight.
  • The first RAAF pilot flew an EA-18G Growler in the United States.
  • The first two RAAF pilots for the F-35A were announced at the Centenary of Military Aviation Air Show
    (see feature article following Table 3.14).

Table 3.12: Program 1.4 deliverables

Deliverable

Status

Prepare, sustain and lead assigned forces in operations to deliver capability to meet government requirements

Met

Provide air power options for the Government by meeting directed preparedness requirements while minimising resource expenditure

Substantially met

Mitigation strategies are in place and resources are
available to address the shortfalls.

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 timely, accurate and considered advice on Air Force capabilities to the Government, the CDF and the Secretary

Met

Engage with Government, the public, international partners, Defence Groups, industry, other stakeholders and Air Force members to maximise achievement of all outputs

Met

Deliver reform, including resource management and cultural change, without compromising capability, safety or airworthiness

Substantially met

Significant progress has been made in implementing the New Horizon program, which has some long-term cultural reform goals that are in the early stages of being realised.

Table 3.13: Program 1.4 deliverables (flying hours)

Deliverable

Status

63 PC-9

17,852 hrs

Substantially met

84 per cent achieved (15,003.1 hrs). Underachievement was due to reduced student throughput at Number 2 Flying Training School, reduced qualified flying instructor numbers at Central Flying School, reduced public relations activities for the Roulettes, and sustainment funding pressures.

16 B300 King Air 350

11,400 hrs

Substantially met

87.9 per cent achieved (10,022.6 hrs). Underachievement was due to fleet-wide structural inspections and repairs, which affected operations for three weeks, and sustainment funding pressures.

12 C-130J Hercules

7,350 hrs

Met

6 C-17 Globemaster III

5,200 hrs

Met

5 KC-30A

3,100 hrs

Partially met

80.8 per cent achieved (2,505 hrs). Underachievement was due to reduced aircraft availability caused by the allocation of two aircraft to refuelling boom testing in Spain, hail damage, and continuing modification programs necessary to achieve final operational capability.

2 B737 BBJ

1,600 hrs

Substantially met

85.7 per cent achieved (1,370.6 hrs). Underachievement was due to BBJ heavy maintenance schedule, resulting in reduced aircraft availability.

3 CL-604 Challenger

2,403 hrs

Substantially met

86.1 per cent achieved (2,068.3 hrs). Underachievement was due to 2013 election tasking being less than planned.

18 P-3 Orion

7,900 hrs

Met

6 E-7A Wedgetail

3,600 hrs

Substantially met

86.3 per cent achieved (3,107.7 hrs). Reduced flying hours were due to operational, test and evaluation activities to support progression to final operational capability. Current qualified crew numbers were fewer than final operational capability crew numbers, upon which the 3,600 hrs deliverable was based.

71 F/A-18A/B Hornet

13,000 hrs

Substantially met

91.9 per cent achieved (11,941.6 hrs). Full flying hours achievement was not accomplished due to a combination of training commitments, low student numbers and adjustments to remain within sustainment funding, and the need to manage aircraft fatigue through to the planned withdrawal of the Hornet.

24 F/A-18F Super Hornet

4,800 hrs

Substantially met

91 per cent achieved (4,369.1 hrs). Underachievement was due primarily to two significant periods of runway works at RAAF Base Amberley, and a temporary reduction of flying hours
to support aircraft maintenance remediation.

33 Hawk 127

7,500 hrs

Substantially met

83.2 per cent achieved (6,241.9 hrs). Underachievement was due to a reduced student throughput, lower availability of qualified flying instructors, and late-notice cancellation
of ADF support tasks.

Table 3.14: Program 1.4 key performance indicators

Key performance indicator

Status

Achieve levels of preparedness as directed by the CDF

Substantially met

The Air Force did not meet all directed preparedness requirements. Mitigation strategies are in place and resources
are available to address the shortfalls.

Meet the Government’s operational requirements

Met

Generate and sustain forces for each current operation

Met

Achieve a level of training that maintains core skills, professional standards and baseline preparedness

Substantially met

The Air Force did not achieve all the training targets to meet directed preparedness requirements. Mitigation strategies are
in place and resources are available to address the shortfalls.

Provide timely, accurate and considered advice on
Air Force capabilities to the Government, the CDF
and the Secretary

Met