Australian selection of the F-111A to replace the aging
Canberra bombers was seen as endorsement to the F-111 programme.
The day before his assassination, JFK was at Fort Worth
to praise the F-111, and to sing praises to Australia for
buying it. Leading up to the decision to purchase the F-111A,
Australia had been offered a number of other strike / bomber
aircraft to satisfy the ASR.
Department of Air in the Top Secret 'Report of the Evaluation
on a Strike/Reconnaissance Aircraft for the Royal Australian
Air Force', considered the F-4C Phantom II and RA-5C Vigilante
from the USA, the two seat Mirage IVO bomber by the French
and the ill fated British TSR2. The report, completed
in August 1963, concluded that there was no aircraft,
then flying, that could fulfil all the requirements of
the ASR, but that the TSR2 or TFX (F-111) appeared on
paper to be suitable.
of Air Report
ill fated British TSR.2 under construction.
The attached note declares that the image is not to be released
to the media or public (early 1960s).
Image sourced from the Australian
photographed at Duxford
the TSR2 met the requirements, the report assessed that the TFX
was superior to the TSR2 in relation to weapon carriage, range,
short take off and landing performance, reconnaissance capability
and cost. The unavailability of the TFX until the late 1960's resulted
in the recommendation that the Australian Government purchase the
RA-5C Vigilante. The Government rejected this on cost as the Vigilante
was expected to need replacing itself in the short term. On 24 October
1963, the Australian Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies communicated
with the British Prime Minister, Sir Alec Douglas-Home, the Australian
decision against the TSR2 in favour of the TFX (by then named F-111A).
Towards the end of the three page Top Secret message, Sir Robert
Menzies stated the strategic significance of the decision, which
would sustain the United States' interest 'in this corner of
reported in the December 1964 issue of 'Aircraft' magazine "Australia
itself adds something to the unique character of the F-111 project."
Of Australia's part of ordering 24 F-111A one month after tooling
began, Defense Secretary McNamara said that:
is the only time, to my knowledge, that a foreign Government has
made a firm purchase commitment for a military aircraft before
the plane has flown".
US Air Force Secretary, Eugene Zuckert, also paid tribute to the
initiative marking this decision...
great confidence the Australians have shown in deciding to purchase
the F-111 early in its development has been more than gratifying.
Their investment in the program came only after careful study
and deliberation so their optimism, and faith in the program have
given us added incentive...There is no finer camaraderie anywhere
than that of our Air Force personnel and the men of the Royal
Australian Air Force. Our wish is that the F-111 will help it
source: Karen Hagar, Lockheed Martin 1998)
Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall
Sir Valston E. Hancock, seated next to General Dynamics (GD) test
pilots Richard L. Johnson and Val E Phahl at the news conference
following the first flight, expressed his satisfaction at its success.
Secretary Zuckert, spoke of his confidence in the project. He stated,
effectiveness of our air power in the late 1960's and in the decade
of the 70s, as well as those of our allies such as Australia,
will be vitally enhanced by the success of the F-111 program.
The versatility of this aircraft promises to meet the demands
for mobility, supersonic performance and great striking power."
(Aircraft magazine February 1965)
decision to acquire the F-111A was not seen in Australia with such
egalitarianism though. Being announced just before an election,
Labor's Defence Spokesman in 1966, Mr Galvin, showing traces of
the original resentment of the decision, stated that
Australia was astir, and the then Minister for Defence ran off
to America and ordered these aircraft quicker than he could have
gone to the shop and bought a handkerchief". "The ordering
was done specifically for electioneering purposes. There was no
ten year advanced planning then." (Aircraft magazine
Robert Menzies admitted in the Top Secret message to Sir Alec Douglas-Home
that the announcement date was indeed due to the upcoming election,
but stated that the substance of the decision was irrespective of
the domestic political situation. Although Australia originally
ordered the F-111A, the planned longer wings for extended range
and strengthened undercarriage for the greater all up weight of
the planned FB-111A were added to the Australian requirement. By
the end of September 1966, HQ USAF directed that the RAAF F-111A
be designated the F-111C, after the F-111A USAF tactical fighter,
the F-111B USN air defence fighter and the FB-111A USAF Strategic
Air Command bomber version. The F-111C was to have the wings and
undercarriage of the FB-111A; the removeable right control stick
of the F-111K and the TF-30 P3 engines, Triple Plow 1 intakes and
MK-1 avionics of the F-111A. Inside the weapons bay, the gun was
to be installed at the expense of the GAR-8/AIM-9 Sidewinder Trapeze
system. The RAAF toyed with the UK paint scheme before settling
on the scheme used by TAC. This scheme was changed during
the five years that the F-111C remained in the US. During the late
1960s the RAAF had already discussed its interest in modifying the
last six F-111C to perform reconnaissance duties. The change of
baseline added to the increasing delays and cost over-run of the
F-111 programme. At the same time, the F-111 was receiving increased
and undeservedly hostile attention from the media on both sides
of the Pacific.
British Government ordered 50 F-111K in April 1965 after the cancellation
of the TSR2 project, but were to cancel the F-111 order by January
1968 and settle with F-4 Phantoms until the Tornado (European mini
F-111) was finally developed. Two TF-111K had almost completed construction,
but were dismantled to spares as were many of the following F-111K
on the production line.
for the Australian Government and the RAAF, the F-111C programme
began to rapidly increase in price. From the initial estimate of
$100 million in 1963, the costs were $142 - $205 million in 1966;
$237 million in 1967; $266 million in 1968; and $300 million in
1969. By the end of 1969, $210 million had already been paid by
the Australian Government. By 1967, the Australian Government found
it increasingly difficult to keep up with the payments. US President
Lyndon Johnson's administration was pressuring the Australian Prime
Minister Harold Holt to expand the Australian commitment to the
conflict in Vietnam by sending a third battalion. Revelations in
Secret Cabinet documents declassified 30 years after the event,
show that the Holt government's decision to send the third Australian
battalion was influenced by a need to renegotiate the payments for
the F-111, and not by for genuine military reasons.
September 1968, the first RAAF F-111, A8-125 was officially
'handed over' to the Australian Minister of Defence Mr Fairhill,
but remained in the USA for test flying.
about this time, the USAF's 428th TFS (Buccaneers) of the Nellis
based 474th TFW had deployed to Takhli RTAFB for combat operations
against targets in Vietnam. The first RAAF personell outside
those in the USA saw, or rather heard first hand F-111 operations.
At Ubon RTAFB at the time was a squadron of RAAF CAC F-86 Sabre
fighters to provide Australia's commitment to the air defence of
Thailand. (Fortunately they never had to go into combat against
the superior NV Migs.) At least one of the RAAF junior fighter pilots
present to witness USAF night practise airfield attacks on Ubon
later became a F-111 pilot himself (and twenty years later Commander
of the SRG).
grew about the structural integrity of a few key points including
the Wing Carry Through Box (WCTB), which holds the pivots of the
wings. Delays and increasing costs had reached the point where speculation
of the cancellation of the Australian order was rife. But on the
17 October 1969, Prime Minister Gorton refuted the speculation by
rejecting the offer to acquire F-4E Phantoms instead of the F-111Cs.
He also said that the F-111Cs would be delivered to Australia 'next
year'. The new Australian Defence Minister, Malcom Fraser, decided
to wait for the report from the retest programme on the F-111C even
though US Senate sub-committee stated the F-111 project was a fiasco
and financial blunder. By 5 December 1969, Australia said that it
would go ahead for pickup after deciding that the WCTB was satisfactory.
As luck would have it, two events in quick succession once again
almost halted the RAAF plans to acquire the F-111C.
20 December 1969, three weeks after the RAAF said that it was confident
of the integrity of the WCTB assembly, reports of a major crack
in a WCTB test article at 8000 simulated hours of fatigue testing
caused major concern. Only two days later on 22 December 1969, F-111A
67-0049, assigned to the 428th TFS of the 474th TFW, crashed and
was destroyed. The mission had been the operational testing of rockets
on the Nellis ranges. During a rocket delivery recovery, a wing
of the F-111A completely detached in flight. The highly experienced
crew of Maj Thomas Mack and Maj James Anthony were killed after
the unsuccessful out-of-module-limits ejection from the rapidly
rolling, out of control aircraft.
A8-125 to A8-140 in storage at Carswell AFB.
Notice the light coloured underside of the aircraft, and
the GD aircraft number on the nose wheel doors.
(photo courtesy of Harold Wise via his son Eric)
RAAF was bitterly disappointed at indications that the
Australian Government might cancel its now $336 million
order for 24 F-111C.
this aircraft already had the modified carry through box,
the loss caused the grounding of all F-111s for an extended
period, and nearly the cancellation of the Australian order
for 24 F-111C. US F-111s had strict restrictions placed
on them until after inspections and testing. The Australian
F-111C were partially dissembled and placed into storage
at Carswell AFB indefinitely.
A8-141 to A8-148 in storage at Carswell AFB
(photo courtesy of Harold Wise via his son Eric)
first six crews were scheduled to leave Amberley for the US in January
1970, in the midst of the US magazine 'Newsweek' reporting that
the US Department of Defense may abandon the F-111 programme. The
US Defense Secretary, Mr Laird announced that the planned 84 F-111
to be produced that year was to be cut, with only 40 being funded.
Further fatigue testing showed fails at between 3000 and 4000 hours,
equating to about a seven and a half year airframe life. At least
ten years was wanted at that time. GD filed a $3 million writ against
Selb Manufacturing Co, having accused it of 'fraudulently having
corrupted two inspectors to conceal defective parts and welds made
by Selb'. By February 1970, GD announced that all F-111 were to
return to Fort Worth for crack testing (Cold
Proof Load Test) and were limited
to a mere 3G.
March 1970, the Australian Defence Minister Malcolm Fraser, stated
five options to parliament:
- cancel the F-111C order within 3 months;
- cancel the F-111C order within 3 months and get F-4E, tankers
and recce aircraft;
- cancel the F-111C order within 3 months and wait for the F-111F
to become available;
- place the F-111C in long term storage pending investigation
of technical problems; and
- place the F-111C in long term storage pending investigation
of technical problems and get interim aircraft
for aircraft to form a replacement for the F-111C included the A-7
Corsair II or the F-4E Phantom II.
cancellation penalties of more than $200 million, and although originally
scheduled for a 1968 delivery, the F-111C remained at Carswell AFB
incurring storage costs of $1 700 per day per aircraft. The RAAF
crews at Nellis were brought home, and 24 F-4E Phantom II were eventually
leased by the Australian Government for interim use by No.s 1 and
6 Squadrons of No 82 Wing based at RAAF Amberley. By this stage,
all 24 F-111C had flown a total of 240 hours in 116 sorties, of
which four had been flown by RAAF crews (all in A8-125). Over $25
million had been spent on preparing Amberley for the F-111, and
the original Simulator (only decommissioned in 1996) was operational.
RAAF F-111C A8-126 (now an AUP RF-111C)
taxies at Fort Worth
(photo courtesy of Karen Hagar, Lockheed Martin 1998)
May 1970, the Australian Government announced that the RAAF would
not take delivery of the F-111C 'until 1974'.
staff inspect the proceedings at GD Fort Worth Structural
Pictured are WGCDRs Collins and Funnell, GPCAPTs Newham
and Cotee and WGCDR Owen.
(photo courtesy of Harold Wise via his son Eric)
The handover of the last F-111C to complete the Structural
(photo courtesy of Harold Wise, GD program manager pictured
immediately on the right of the sign)
16 December 1971, the Defence Minister Mr Fairbairn announced the
Cabinet decision to accept aircraft out of storage. Modifications
to the original F-111C included the installation of the new low
stress wing carry through box, and cold proof load testing. Australian
aircrew and maintenance personnel were once again readied for training
in the United States. By 4 October 1972, much to the regret of most
aircrew, the last 6 Squadron F-4E sorties, (an eight ship), were
flown. By January 1973, aircrew were once again at Nellis AFB for
had previously been performed at Nellis by the 4527th CCTS.
After training, some RAAF aircrew were returned as staff.
The continual delays in delivery must have been very trying on those
involved. The 'Commanders comments' on the graduation ceremony pamphlet
for course 69-F were in hindsight optimistic. The pamphlet
to you of Class 69-F on completion of your course of flying instruction
in the F-111A. Yours is the next to last class of RAAF crews
to be trained here at Nellis AFB. I sincerely hope that
you have found the training which you have received to have been
up to your expectations, and that you are adequately trained to
fly the long flight back to Australia when that day arrives.
We think you are. We of the 474th Tactical fighter Wing,
and particularly of the 4527th Combat Crew Training Squadron,
hate to see you leave, as we have become good friends during your
stay with us. However, I know that you are ready to return
home, for you have been away from your native land for some time
- longer than you expected to have been gone. in any event,
we will not say goodbye, as we will see you back here for refresher
training before you pick up your aircraft at the factory.
in the meantime, best of luck. -- Gabriel P.
Bartholomew, Colonel, USAF Commander, 4527th CCTS.
Wg Cmdr Roy E. Frost
Sqdn Ldr Ashley W. Clarke
Flt Lt Graham R. Barker
Flt Lt Desmond H. Gibbs
Flt Lt William J. Emery
Flt Lt James W. Garland
Flt Lt Alfred J. Green
Flt Lt Michael A. McMahon
Flt Lt Patrick J. Doyle
Flt Lt John G. Gazley
Fly Off Cecil M. Lucas
Flg Off Alan D. Kirby
Aircrew pose with the Commander of the 442nd TFTS prior
to the start of Class 72-U on
22 February 1972.
From L to R:
FLTLT Christopher Hancock,
FLTLT Richard Kelloway,
SQNLDR Gilbert Moore,
LTCOL Kenneth Frank,
FLTLT Juilinne Wills and
FLTLT Alan Lockett.
The class was scheduled to graduate 2 May 1972.
Photo by 474th TFW Historian Jack Hays.
(Image supplied by Doc Servo and Jeff)
on 1 June 1973 at 11.23am local time, the first six RAAF F-111C
arrived in the skies over Amberley after being flown from McClellan
AFB via Pago Pago. The crews of the first six aircraft were:
GPCAPT Jake Newham (pilot) WGCDR T.C. Owen (Nav)
A8-126 WGCDR Ray Funnell (Pilot) SQNLDR N. Pollock (Nav)
A8-127 SQNLDR Ian Westmore (Pilot) FLTLT J.A. Bushell (Nav)
A8-128 SQNLDR John Emery (Pilot) FLTLT Ross Hardcastle (Nav)
A8-129 SQNLDR W.F. Walters (Pilot) FLGOFF P.J. McDonald (Nav)
A8-130 FLTLT R.T. Sivyer (Pilot) FLTLT P.W. Growder (Nav)
On 28th May 1973 arrived @ Hickham
On 30th May 1973 arrived @ Pago Pago
On 1st June 1973 arrived @ Amberley
Jake Newham was OC82WG and later CAS, WGCDR Ray G. Funnell was
CO6SQN and later CAS, WGCDR T.C. Owen - navigator of first F-111C
and over 20 years later, who's son was to be the navigator of
the first F-111G to Australia, SQNLDR N.M. Pollock - navigator
and survivor of a USAF F-111A crash at Nellis.)
crews had spent five months away from their families. The arrival
was delayed until the Defence Minister, Mr Barnard, arrived at Amberley.
The delay caused some anxiety for the six crews arriving from Pago
Pago as they had low fuel reserves.
Emery writes of the welcome parade...
the day of the first arrival, my mother, my brother and myself
were there at the parade. The guys were late (7 minutes
I believe - basically because they were holding out the back
of the Gold Coast in a 10 min pattern to be told that they were
due on in 2 min and could they get there in a hurry. Apparently
they proof tested the speed restrictions on the external tanks.)
When they got there, the speeches were going on and on
and on and on and on.... and my brother was getting really restless.
We were standing next to the rails behind the reviewing platform
(there's a PR photo of it taken over the heads of the crowd
onto the tarmac with the a/c and crews all lined up - we're
in the photo) One of the senior officers at the back reached
over the barrier and said to my brother "Go and find your
Dad" So my brother (3 yrs old at the time BTW), in
the middle of the parade, speeches etc goes running across the
tarmac screaming "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy". He did
find him and spent the rest of the ceremony out there with Dad.
There's a couple of PR photos of the guys standing in
front of their aircraft with this little boy mixed in with them.
my father, I ended up joining the RAAF. It's a sad twist
of fate that both aircraft that Dad brought back from the US
have crashed. It's even sadder when the last two pilots
that have been killed in RAAF F-111 - Jezza McNess and Shorty
Short were both of my Academy Course. But welcome to the
world of military aviation.
C.H. Spurgeon CBE DFC associated with F-111 from the start as the
first F-111C Programme Manager was present for the arrival. During
the welcoming speech, Mr Barnard stated, "Im sure this
aircraft will be flying well into the 80s, and beyond". No-one
present would have guessed that 'beyond' will now probably be 47
years after that date! The aircraft had arrived five years late,
having been ordered off the drawing board ten years earlier. During
that time, Australia had seen five Prime Ministers and ten Defence
days later, the Pentagon announced the halt in manufacture
of the F-111. By then, 31 had crashed, including a reported
8 shot down over South East Asia. (In reality,
as more of the missing F-111A are even now discovered in
the jungle mountains of SEA, only one definite and possibly
another F-111A were actually shot down.) The economies
of scale had never been realised. In 1962, the planned 1726
aircraft production produced at an estimated cost of $US
3.4 million each, but by 1973, the 543 produced were costed
at $US 14.6 million each. A spokesman for the Australian
Defence Minister said the decision to end production of
F-111s would not affect the supply of spares for the RAAF's
24 F-111s through their life span, which will go well
into the 1980s. Three more six ships were to arrive
at Amberley on 27 July, 28 September and 4 December 1973.
With no official name, the F-111 (F one eleven or F triple
one) were soon known fondly as 'Pigs' by the RAAF crews
the early 1970's, the RAAF F-111s have been subject to many
updates. In early January 1977, the subject of attrition
replacement aircraft had been raised, and at the ANZUS conference,
six USAF F-111A at a cost of $AUD 42 million were offered
to the Australian Government. Not all aircraft were purchased,
and until recently, some F-111A at the Davis-Monthan 'Boneyard'
had been kept aside for Australia.
F-111A were eventually purchased (67-109, 67-112, 67-113,
and 67-114) and delivered to 6 Squadron, who were later
to fly the F-111C, RF-111C and unmodified F-111A. Over
the next few years, the F-111A were modified by No. 482
Squadron (maintenance) and No 3 Aircraft Depot to F-111C
standard excluding the wing carry through box. Some junior
aircrew and maintenance personnel today do not even realise
that the aircraft were F-111A. The four F-111A are now
referred to as F-111C by all except logistics computers!
of 67-113 on its' final combat mission loaded with 24
The official date on the rear of the photo is 15 August
1973 and was sourced from the US DOD Still Media Depository,
via Anthony Thornborough
a quarter of a century later...
Image of A8-113 with storm covers on after its' AUP upgrade
in 1997. Note the three weapons pylons visible.
Sourced from 82WG Photographic Services.
from the outset was interested in making reconnaissance
modifications to some of the F-111C. In January 1975, suggestions
had been made to use proposed recon pods built from F-14
Drop Tanks. The RF-111A, and the following RF-111D programs
were both cancelled by the USAF, leaving Australia to 'go
it alone' with GD Fort Worth to develop a reconnaissance
capability. On 22 August 1979, the first RF-111C (A8-126
crewed by SQNLDR Jack Lynch and FLTLT Martin Chalk) arrived
at Amberley from Fort Worth. The remaining three aircraft
were to be modified by 3AD at Amberley. The RF modification
only cost $AUD 27 million (1980 dollars).
Modern RAAF F-111 Fleet ...
the 1980's the RAAF also modified the remaining F-111C with
the Pave Tack infra red laser target detection and designation
system (as fitted to the F-111F), and incorporated hardware
to fire the AGM-84 Harpoon anti shipping missile. At that
stage, the F-111C, although updated with some digital systems,
still retained the archaic Mark 1 avionics including the
LN-14 navigation system of the Vietnam era F-111As. It was
not until the early 1990s that the first digitally updated
F-111C was to fly. The RAAF Avionics Update Programme (AUP)
was overall an extension of the USAF Avionics Modernisation
Program (AMP) to the FB-111A, and F-111A/E and the Pacer
Strike update to the F-111F. Using the experiences of the
USAF in these programs, the RAAF developed an aircraft with
an indigenous software update facility.
A preview of Carlo Kopps' comprehensive article on the Avionics
Update Programme (AUP) is now HERE
15 October 1992, the Australian Government announced the
surprise decision to purchase of 15 ex USAF F-111G aircraft.
The plan was ratified by parliament on 29 June 1993. Two
RAAF crews (FLTLTs Lawrence and Riddel from 1SQN and FLTLTs
Seaton and Gray from 6SQN) and a number of maintenance personnel
were sent to train with the USAF 428th TFS at Cannon AFB
New Mexico. The 428th 'Buccaneers' was one of the 'old timer'
F-111 Squadrons, having seen combat in the Vietnam conflict
twice. Over the following 18 months, the RAAF ferried all
15 F-111G's from McClellan AFB to Australia without tanker
support or enroute maintenance personnel, and without incident.
After a progressive series of induction servicings, the
F-111G's are being released to 6 Squadron for operations.
the F-111G (which had previously been the SAC FB-111A)
were used by the USAF for training, the RAAF uses them
for operations. It is most ironic that these ex-nuclear
missile armed strategic bombers are now used by the RAAF
in amounst other roles, the tactical Close Air Support
part of the July 1996 wing reorganisation, the RF-111C were transferred
from 6 Squadron to 1 Squadron. All F-111G strike operations are
performed by 6 Squadron. Since the reorganisation, No 6 Squadron
had been the digital squadron, and 1 Squadron had flown the remaining
analogue aircraft, while progressively exchanging these for AUP
RF/F-111C from production. Not all of the F-111 are 'on the flightline'.
To extend the viable life of the aircraft well into the next millennia,
aircraft are being progressively rotated through long term storage.
further F-111 was delivered to Australia in 1995. Pre-production
F-111A 63-9768, once named 'City of
Graham' was the third F-111 off the production line. After flight
testing early in the F-111 programme, it was redesignated GF-111A,
and used for ground training at Sheppard AFB. In 1995, the aircraft
was transported by road to Norfolk VA, and loaded aboard HMAS Kanimbla
for shipping to Australia. It was transferred to HMAS Tobruk in
Sydney and shipped to Brisbane, where it travelled by road transport
to RAAF Amberley. The aircraft hulk is used for ground training.
As the aircraft is on 'long term loan' from the USAF, it was not
assigned a RAAF serial number. In late March 1998, while stripping
back the years of accumulated paint on the aircraft, RAAF Amberley
Surface Finishers found the original 'City of Graham' nose painting.
The GF-111A is now being repainted all over grey, but retaining
the rediscovered nose art.
recent imports include the 1996 delivery of the module and forward
equipment section of FB-111A 68-246 to 501WG, and the delivery of
F-111A 67-106 to the Defence Science & Technology Organisation'
Aeronautical & Maritime Research Laboratory. The airframe of
67-106 (minus wings & horizontal stabs) was shipped from LA
on the 22nd October aboard the 'Kapitan Konev' and arrived in Melbourne
on the 6 November 1999. The fuselage is being torndown and inspected
to help identify fatigue & corrosion problems which may impact
on the Australian fleet through to the planned withdrawal date of
2020. The teardown will mean dismemberment of the fuselage down
to the individual component level with extensive Non Destructive
Testing and fractography on all structurally significant parts.
It is envisaged to take between 2 to 3 years to complete the project,
all parts will then be stored until 2020.
2 December 1997, the Australian Minister for Defence announced as
part of the new Australian Strategic Policy, the continuance of
the F-111 platform until the year 2020 (57 years after Australia
ordered them!!). As part of the ongoing upgrades, the F-111G aircraft
will receive their own AUP, and an engine change to a locally derived
(and whimsically named) TF-30 P-108. The RAAF has in recent years
been working with Pratt and Whitney to streamline the engine maintenance
at Amberley from the P-103 of the F/RF-111C and the P-107 of the
F-111G. The F/RF-111C will be re-engined in the next 12 months to
the more powerful P-109. As the P-109 will not physically fit in
the F-111G (the P-107 is a 'straight through engine', while the
P-103 and P-109 have a 3 degree up tilt), a union of the P-109 engine
forward section with the P-107 aft section (hence P-108!) will be
incorporated in the F-111G fleet in the next few years. It is expected
that the P-108 will have the same power as the P-107.
upgrades include the acquisition of the AGM-142 Popeye (Have Nap)
electro-optically guided stand-off missile, and slated acquisitions
of an anti-radiation missile, a new 4th generation 'within-visual-range'
air to air missile incorporating helmet mounted sights, and an updated
Electronic Warfare suite.
May 1998, with the final flight of the USAF EF-111A from Cannon
AFB to 'The Boneyard' at AMARC, Davis-Monthan AFB Arizona, Amberley
will become the last home base for F-111 operations in the world.
Although sadly this closes the USAF history of the F-111, it does
not indicate the 'winding down' of F-111 operations, but merely
marked just over the 'half way point' of the Australian F-111 'PIG'
experience of 1963 to 2020.
the 9 November 1999, it was reported in the Sydney
Morning Herald that Australian F-111 aircraft were involved
in continuing reconnaissance operations in the skies of East
Timor as part of the Australian lead International Force East
marked the first time that Australian F-111s have been operationally
the 17 F-111C (including 4 ex F-111A), 4 RF-111C and 14 F-111G form
the RAAF's Strike Reconnaissance Group consisting of No. 82 Wing,
No 1 Squadron (F-111C Strike and RF-111C Reconnaissance) and No.6
Squadron ( F-111G Strike and F-111C Training). Depot level maintenance
is performed by No. 501 Wing (ex 3 Aircraft Depot and 482 Squadron).
The F/RF-111C fleet has recently completed the AUP Block upgrade,
and a potential Block upgrade for the F-111G fleet is in the wings.