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Annual Report 2014–15

Volume 1, Part 2 : Performance

Programme 1.4
Air Force Capabilities

The Chief of Air Force 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, positioning the Air Force for the future and providing strategic advice on aerospace matters.

Air power is crucial to Australia’s national security. In defending Australia’s air space, providing high-tech surveillance and reconnaissance, and transporting vital supplies in times of need, the Air Force is committed to protecting Australia and its national interests.

The year 2014–15 brought many milestones: the celebration of the centenary of the first military flight in Australia, the achievement of 800,000 flying hours by all Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Hercules types, and the record 16-hour-plus mission over Iraq by the E-7A Wedgetail.

The year also provided a spectrum of challenges and highlights for the Air Force. In 2015, Plan Jericho was launched to transform the Air Force into a modern, fully integrated combat force that can deliver air and space power effects in the information age. After 13 years, Operation Slipper officially ended in December 2014. Operation Okra commenced, and the Air Force deployed an air task group to the Middle East region as part of Australia’s contribution to international efforts to combat the Daesh terrorist threat.

The Air Force’s C-130J Hercules aircraft completed the most complex operational humanitarian airdrop mission in more than a decade to save the lives of people trapped on Mt Sinjar in northern Iraq. After the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in Ukraine, half of the Air Force’s C-17A Globemaster fleet operated nearly 24 hours a day, seven days a week, moving people, equipment and supplies into and around Europe.

The Air Force also provided significant humanitarian support in the wake of natural disasters, including relief efforts after Cyclone Marcia on Great Keppel Island, Cyclone Lam in the Northern Territory and Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu. The Air Force also provided humanitarian support to Nepal after a devastating earthquake struck the region, delivering more than 13 tonnes of humanitarian aid, flying 50 hours, and carrying more than 320 passengers between 29 April and 3 May 2015.

The 2014–15 financial year included a number of developments in future capability:

  • In the United States, the first RAAF F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter made its maiden flight and Australia’s first F-35A qualified pilot flew the aircraft.
  • The first RAAF C-27J Spartan aircraft arrived in Australia.
  • The Government announced the purchase of two additional C-17A Globemasters and two more
    KC-30A Multi Role Tanker Transport aircraft.
  • In the United States, the P-8A Poseidon was flown by an RAAF pilot for the first time.
  • The E-7A Wedgetail fleet reached full operational capability.
  • Airservices Australia and the Air Force entered into a memorandum of agreement on 29 May 2015 for the operation of the Heron remotely piloted unmanned aircraft system in Australian civil airspace.

In 2015–16, the Air Force will continue its commitment to advancing future capability and transitioning to a fully integrated fighting force through Plan Jericho.

Table 3.13: Programme 1.4 deliverables

Deliverable

Status

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Key

Met

• • •

Substantially met

• •

Partially met

• •

Not met

• • •

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

Status Met • • •

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

Status Met • • •

In consultation with the Capability Development Group and the Defence Materiel Organisation, continue to plan, develop and monitor the delivery of, and transition to, new capability.

Status Met • • •

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

Status Met • • •

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

Status Met • • •

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

Status Met • • •

Table 3.14: Programme 1.4 deliverables (flying hours)

Deliverable

Status

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Key

Met

• • •

Substantially met

• •

Partially met

• •

Not met

• • •

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63 PC-9

16,552 hrs

Status Substantially Met • •

91 per cent achieved (15,098 hours). Underachievement was due to reduced student throughput at Number 2 Flying Training School, undersubscribed flying instructor courses at Central Flying School and a below-average number of public relations activities for the Roulettes.

16 B300 King Air 350

10,000 hrs

Status Met • • •

12 C-130J Hercules

7,350 hrs

Status Met • • •

6 C-17A Globemaster III

6,000 hrs

Status Met • • •

10 C-27J Spartan

1,000 hrs

• • Status Partially Met

20 per cent achieved (196 hours). Underachievement was due to delays in conversion training in the United States.

5 KC-30A MRTT

4,100 hrs

Status Met • • •

2 B737 BBJ

1,600 hrs

Status Substantially Met • •

90 per cent achieved (1,434 hours). Underachievement was due to reduced tasking.

3 CL604 Challenger

2,200 hrs

• • Status Partially Met

79 per cent achieved (1,738 hours). Underachievement was due to reduced tasking.

16 AP-3C Orion

7,300 hrs

Status Met • • •

6 E-7A Wedgetail

3,000 hrs

Status Met • • •

71 F/A-18A/B Hornet

13,000 hrs

Status Met • • •

24 F/A-18F Super Hornet
7,050 hrs

Status Met • • •

8 P-8A Poseidon
0 hrs

• • • •

Not applicable.

Not yet in service.

33 Hawk 127
7,000 hrs

Status Substantially Met • •

94 per cent achieved (6,612 hours). Underachievement was due to reduced student throughput.

12 E/A-18G Growler
0 hrs

• • • •

Not applicable.

Not yet in service.

2 F-35A Lightning II
230 hrs

Status Substantially Met • •

87 per cent achieved (201 hours). Underachievement was due to reduced training demand for aircraft in the United States.

Table 3.15: Programme 1.4 key performance indicators

Key performance indicator

Status

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Key

Met

• • •

Substantially met

• •

Partially met

• •

Not met

• • •

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Achieve levels of preparedness as directed by the CDF.

Status Met • • •

Meet the Government’s operational requirements.

Status Met • • •

Generate and sustain forces for each current operation.

Status Met • • •

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

Status Met • • •

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

Status Met • • •