Much to celebrate
turns 60, the Aircraft Research and Development Unit is looking
ahead to exciting change, as LACW Simone Liebelt reports.
members at work.
members at work.
Captain Steve Fielder in front of ARDUs new home.
Photo by LAC Rob Hack
Hyshot scramjet launch.
Photo by LACW Simone Liebelt
THE Aircraft Research and Development Unit (ARDU) at RAAF Base Edinburgh
will focus on its future while celebrating its past on July 25.
Past and present members and friends of the unit will join in the
celebrations, which will culminate in a reunion dinner in the ARDU
hangar that evening.
Activities marking 60 years of the units aerospace test and
evaluation success will also feature an official welcome into service
of the recently created Aerospace Operational Support Group (AOSG)
by Air Commander Australia Air Vice-Marshal John Kindler.
Tasked with the implementation of AOSG, Commander ARDU Group Captain
Steve Fielder believes that its staged phasing will provide effective
and comprehensive support to ADF operations through better coordination
and control of specialist resources from ARDU and other support
The aim of the AOSG will be to enhance and extend ADF combat
capability through the provision of comprehensive, timely and integrated
operational support, GPCAPT Fielder said.
Traditionally responsible for test and evaluation, ARDU underwent
major changes in the early 1990s when it incorporated aircraft and
stores engineering functions and joined forces with the Joint Electronic
Warfare Operational Unit (JEWOSU).
It also took responsibility of the Defence Science and Technology
Organisations instrumented range at Woomera, which hosts a
range of experimental activities from universities and other organisations.
GPCAPT Fielder said under the AOSG plan, ARDU would return to an
organisation primarily responsible for test and evaluation, with
JEWOSU and Aircraft Stores Compatibility separating from the unit
to form sister organisations within the new integrated
The AOSG will formally bring together the air warfare enablers,
he said. It will form out of the current ARDU organisation
as a whole, with test and evaluation being just one of the activities
AOSG employs more than 350 tri-service and civilian members and
serves a wide customer base from its four disciplines of aircraft
systems engineering, test and evaluation, aircraft stores compatibility
engineering and electronic warfare operational support.
Through a robust airworthiness procedure, its test and engineering
capabilities allow for the safe operation of aircraft outside of
standard flight envelopes.
Tasks range from an upgraded F-111 engine to a Hawk and B-707 aircraft
air-to-air refuelling trial.
We support aerospace development for Air Force and Army, developing
future capability, and by doing trials and tasks on certain pieces
of equipment to reduce risk into the future, GPCAPT Fielder
JEWOSU provides advice on operational mission planning and supports
electronic warfare test and evaluation tasks. Aircraft Stores Compatibility
designs and approves the carriage and employment of new stores on
In the long term, AOSG may also include other specialist organisations,
such as the Institute of Aviation Medicine, in providing support
capabilities to operational activities.
ARDU will continue to be the centre of excellence in ADF aerospace
test and evaluation with its role being complemented by the AOSGs
other functional capabilities, GPCAPT Fielder said.
IN World War II a link was required between the developing
aircraft industry and the operational elements of the Air Force.
As a forerunner to ARDU, the Special Duties and Performance Flight
was formed at RAAF Base Laverton in 1941 and attached to No. 1
Aircraft Depot. In 1943 it was replaced with the No. 1 Air Performance
As predecessor of ARDU, 1APU was responsible for the testing of
aircraft types from local production and overseas introduced into
RAAF service during the conflict, including the Boomerang, the
Spitfire and the Kittyhawk.
After WWII, the unit moved from RAAF Base Laverton to Point Cook
before being renamed ARDU in 1947. Returning to Laverton the following
year, ARDUs role in aircraft test and evaluation expanded
to include two detachments, operating out of Mallala in South
Australia and Richmond in NSW.
Another detachment was later established in Edinburgh, South Australia,
which in 1977 became the home of ARDU.
In 1991, the Defence Science and Technologys Range Measurement
Branch was integrated with ARDU, bringing with it the responsibility
of the Woomera instrumented range, a 2000 square kilometre prohibited
area in the South Australian desert.
Expanding its role to incorporate operational support in 1992,
ARDU amalgamated with the Joint Electronic Warfare Operational
Support Unit, also located at Edinburgh.
Now, a new chapter of ARDUs history has begun, with the
unit relocating from its old Edinburgh facility occupied
26 years ago to a new purpose-built facility on RAAF Base
SIXTY years of aerospace test and evaluation involvement has
produced a long list of successful projects for the Aircraft Research
and Development Unit (ARDU).
In conjunction with laboratory research and government departments,
manufacturers and scientific organisations, ARDU has conducted
a range of interesting and challenging full-scale and joint research
and development trials.
Over the past 60 years, ARDU has tested every aircraft type introduced
into Royal Australia Air Force service, from the Mustang to the
Hawk 127 Fighter, and participated in scientific experiments and
research on other aircraft and equipment.
Some early projects included the development and testing of the
flight suit and G-suit, experiments on remote controlled aircraft
prototypes, cloud-seeding experiments in Dakota aircraft, and
cosmic ray research in Lincoln aircraft.
Modern trials have included development of a new life raft for
the Air/Sea Rescue Kit for the P-3 Orion, live-fire testing of
the AGM-142 missile for the F-111, test and evaluation support
of the Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle, and paratroop trials
of the new C-130J Hercules.
ARDU have also assisted with some dynamic experiments in the Woomera
instrumented range, including the University of Queenslands
Hyshot scramjet rocket launch and the Japanese supersonic rocket
launch, which tested payloads at extreme speeds. In 2004, NASA
plan to test the X-38, an emergency crew return vehicle for the
International space station, at Woomera before launching it into
In the future, ARDU will conduct flight testing of the Airborne
Early Warning and Control Aircraft to be introduced into
service in 2006 and will contribute to major projects to
upgrade the air-to-air refuelling and fighter capabilities.
Results from ARDU projects have led to developments, improvements
and innovations in aerospace technology, and have guaranteed the
future of ARDU as Australias leader in military aircraft
test and evaluation.