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Sat, Dec 04, 2010

RAAF Retires F-111 Fighters

Swing-Wing Fighter Entered RAAF Service In 1973

After 37 years of service, the RAAF retired its fleet of F-111 fighters on December 3. The twin-engine swing-wing aircraft was introduced to the Royal Australian Air Force in 1973. It can take off and land at relatively low speeds with the wings swept forward, then fly at more than twice the speed of sound with its wings tucked back. It can fly close to the ground at supersonic speeds, following the terrain to avoid detection.


File Photo

The aircraft became known affectionately as the "Pig" for its ability to hunt at night with its nose in the weeds, thanks to its terrain-following radar.

As prime contractor for F-111 through-life support activities since 1996, Boeing Defence Australia designed, developed and delivered technologies and modifications to improve the operational effectiveness of the F-111 fleet from its facilities at RAAF Base Amberley. These upgrades included aircraft overhauls conducted under the F-111 Weapons System Business Unit (WSBU) contract.

Awarded to Boeing in 2001, the WSBU contract was the largest contract awarded by the Commonwealth of Australia at the time and covered all major upgrades to the fleet's airframe, avionics and weapons systems, including:

  • Providing airframe maintenance from R1 (basic level) through R5 (deeper level).
  • Providing system analysis, design, modification and testing.
  • Designing and integrating software and hardware to support the AGM-142 missile, the longest range air-to-ground missile available within the Australian Defence Force.
  • Modifying radar warnings.


File Photo

Additional programs and facilities that Boeing has operated in support of the fleet include a fuel tank repair program, a coldproof load test facility, an F-111 ground test team, and a wing recovery program.

"Over the years, hundreds of Boeing employees have played a vital role in maintaining the operational effectiveness of the F-111 fleet and some, like me, have an even longer history with the platform after working on them during our time in the RAAF," said Ian Gabriel, F-111 program manager, Boeing Defence Australia. "On behalf of all Boeing personnel who supported the aircraft, it has been a privilege to have played a part in the rich military history of the F-111."

"Throughout Boeing's long association with the F-111, we've forged strong relationships with the RAAF, our supplier partners and the local Ipswich community," said John Duddy, vice president and managing director, Boeing Defence Australia. "This could not have been achieved without the consistency and commitment of the Boeing personnel who have worked on the platform, and I thank them all. As the F-111 retires and we enter a new generation of Australian air defense through the F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, Boeing looks forward to continuing to work with the RAAF to help protect Australia and its people."

FMI: www.airforce.gov.au, www.boeing.com

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