Each year Wings Over Illawarra is supported by all three arms of the Australian Defence Force and 2016 will be no different, with air displays and static exhibits from the Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Australian Navy and Australian Army.
2016 will see the largest collection of Australian Defence Force aircraft ever seen in the Illawarra.
Royal Australian Air Force
The RAAF will be showcasing its pilot skills with a display from the F/A-18 Hornet aircraft. The Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18A/B Hornet is a multi-role fighter designed for both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions. It is capable of air interception, air combat, close air support of ground troops, and interdiction of enemy supply lines including shipping. This years display will be conducted by No. 2 Operational Conversion Unit, RAAF Base Williamtown, who train pilots transferring to Hornet squadrons. The Hornet was developed for the US Navy and Marine Corps and has been a very successful aircraft. It is also used by Canada, Finland, Kuwait, Malaysia, Spain and Switzerland. The fleet has just undergone a major avionics upgrade to ensure effective operations for the next 10 to 15 years.
The C-17A Globemaster III provides Air Force with an unprecedented capacity for strategic air lift. It allows Australia to rapidly deploy troops, supplies, combat vehicles, heavy equipment and helicopters anywhere in the world. The C-17A Globemaster is a high-wing four-engine heavy transport. It has three times the carrying capacity of the C-130 Hercules, allowing Australia to rapidly deploy troops, supplies, combat vehicles, heavy equipment and helicopters anywhere in the world. It can carry up to 77 tonnes, ranging from an Abrams Tank, four Bushmaster vehicles, three Black Hawk helicopters, or be converted to an aero-medical evacuation capacity. Based at RAAF Base Amberley, the six C-17As provided the backbone of the air link for Operation SLIPPER in Afghanistan. Capable of landing on dirt strips as short as 3,500 feet, it carried supplies and personnel between Australia and the Middle East
The C-130J Hercules is a medium-sized tactical air lifter. Capable of carrying 120 passengers, or seven pallets of cargo, their ability to land on short or unsurfaced airstrips makes them highly desirable for regional air lift in conjunction with the C-27J Spartan. Based at RAAF Base Richmond, the 12 C-130J Hercules are also capable of air dropping supplies and parachuting personnel. The C-130J Hercules are an important air link with the Middle East, carrying supplies and personnel between locations in theatre. The C-130J is also an important asset in Australia’s search and survivor assistance and disaster relief efforts. The C-130J is an important asset in Australia’s search and survivor assistance and disaster relief efforts. The C-130J aircraft were an integral part of Operation PAKISTAN ASSIST II, Operation PACIFIC ASSIST, Operation CHRISTCHURCH ASSIST, Operation YASI ASSIST, Operation ACCORDION and Operation OKRA.
The RAAF's elite formation aerobatic display team will be putting on a sensational display as always in the Pilatus PC-9/A aircraft. The Royal Australian Air Force's Pilatus PC-9/A two-seat single-engine turboprop aircraft is the principal basic training aircraft of the Australian Defence Force. At RAAF Base Pearce, trainee ADF pilots, having successfully completed the Basic Flying Course at the ADF Basic Flying Training School at Tamworth, undertake the Advanced Flying Training Course with No 2 Flying Training School, during which they fly 130 hours in the PC-9/A. Upon successful completion, graduates are awarded their wings and posted to a flying squadron.
The AP-3C Orion is an extremely versatile aircraft capable of land maritime surveillance, anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare, naval fleet support, and search and rescue operations. Based at RAAF Base Edinburgh, the AP-3C Orion recently completed almost 10 years of operational service in the Middle East, completing 2,400 missions with more than 3,500 personnel completing tours of duty. The aircraft conducts long-range surveillance missions within Australia's Exclusive Economic Zone and throughout the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The Orion first entered military service in 1962, with the P-3C first introduced in 1968. The significantly upgraded Australian AP-3C Orions were introduced into service in 2002, and are fitted with a variety of sensors, including digital multi-mode radar, electronic support measures, electro-optics detectors (infra-red and visual), magnetic anomaly detectors, friend or foe identification systems and acoustic detectors. The AP-3C Orion may work alone, or in conjunction with other aircraft or ships. Wartime missions include locating and attacking enemy submarines and ships using torpedoes and Harpoon anti-shipping missiles. Orions also assist in search and rescue operations by conducting search and survivor supply (air drop) missions.
Royal Australian Navy
On static display this year will be the RAN MRH90 Taipan helicopter operated by 808 squadron from HMAS Albatross in Nowra. The Multi Role Helicopter (MRH) will replace the ADF's existing Black Hawk and Sea King fleets with increased and improved capability, ability and capacity to meet emerging requirements. 46 MRH90 aircraft will be acquired for Navy and Army. The MRH90 capability will have more built-in safety features that meet or exceed today's requirements and utilise the latest technology including composite materials and fly-by-wire systems that will provide more efficient maintenance.
Alongside the MRH90 you will find the S-70B-2 Seahawk helicopter operated by 816 sqauadron, also from HMAS Albatross in Nowra. The Seahawk is an integral part of a ship's weapons and sensor systems. With its unique sensor suite and integrated weapons systems the helicopter extends the combat radius of the ship by finding, localising and attacking where appropriate, surface or submarine targets either independently or in conjunction with other forces.
The Black Hawk is a multi-role helicopter ideally suited to its primary role of providing air mobility for troops and equipment in the battle zone. Black Hawks can also carry out aerial reconnaissance, observation, direction of artillery fire, casualty evacuation and aerial fire support. When required the aircraft plays a vital role in community support tasks such as Search and Rescue and the provision of flood relief.