Home' Defence Magazine : Issue 5 2010 Contents 36 www.defence.gov.au/defencemagazine
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The impending retirement
of the F-111 marks the end
of an era for 278 Squadron
Technical Training Flight
Amberley with the final
During the last four decades, 278SQN has equipped
the F-111 technical workforce with the underpinning
aircraft system knowledge and trade skill sets to
ensure the airworthiness of the aircraft and maintain
its operational capability.
All F-111 specific trade courses, safety and
familiarisation courses have now concluded with the
completion of the F-111 Manager’s Familiarisation
course on 3 June.
The manager’s course was tailored for engineering
officers, Warrant Officers and Flight Sergeants
new to employment on the F-111. It provided an
engineering overview of all F-111 aircraft, avionics
and armament systems.
278SQN Amberley has now transitioned to
providing technical instruction on a new modern
aircraft platform and it looks forward to providing
the same level of quality training for the life of
the Super Hornet.
There are mixed feelings about teaching the last
F-111 courses, OIC 278SQN Technical Training Flight
(TTF) Amberley, FLTLT Paul Mulcahy said.
“There is some sadness due to the impending
retirement of the F-111, with the majority of the
current instructors having worked on the aircraft
for more than 15 years. For some this is the only
airframe they have worked on,” FLTLT Mulcahy said.
“But, there is also excitement at the prospect of
providing instruction on a technologically-advanced
modern fighter aircraft, such as the Super Hornet.”
There are 30 instructional and management staff
employed within 278SQN TTF AMB. However,
this will reduce to 25 next January following
the retirement of the F-111.
Technical nous noT losT
for F-111 Training squadron
An emotional wave swept over Amberley as F-111s were
loaded with high explosive (HE) weapons for the last time
during 6 Squadron’s final bomb camp conducted 7 to 11 June.
The F-111s generally use HE weapons during
major exercises such as Chong Ju, Talisman
Sabre and Northern Challenge. But due to limited
training opportunities in the F-111s final year of
service, 6SQN scheduled a specific bomb camp
to exercise HE ops.
A pair of F-111s took to the skies each day and
night for the duration of the exercise conducted
above the Shoal Water Bay Training Area (SWBTA).
With the impending retirement of the Air Force’s
longest serving aircraft, all 6SQN members
participated in the exercise with armament
technicians being called upon from both 6SQN
and 1SQN, including reservists, to join in the
6SQN pilot, Flight Lieutenant Vladislav Bismarck
said the bomb camp was specifically dedicated
to preserving HE currency for both maintainers
“The bomb camp provided aircrew with hands-on
training for pre-flighting loaded aircraft and the
opportunity to practice some of the more technical
aspects of delivering weapons in a formation, such
as simultaneous time over target attacks,” FLTLT
The 2.5-hour sorties saw a total of 8,6000
pounds of HE employed during the week,
including Mk82Air, Mk84, GBU-12, GBU-10
and GBU-24 weapons.
Preparing for a bomb camp relies heavily on the
cohesive teamwork of 6SQN across all aspects
from aircrew, maintenance, logistics, operations
and support personnel.
“The aircrew needed to develop a specific attack
profile and determine the type of weapon and
fusing that is required the day before they fly the
mission,” FLTLT Bismarck said.
“The preparation of the weapons requires a high
level of expertise from the gunnies. There are a lot
of lanyards, fuses and mechanisms that need to
be precisely prepared so that the weapons can be
employed safely and accurately.”
Weapon orders and storage on base is
something that the logistic staff have to pre-plan
months in advance.
Senior Engineering Officer, Squadron Leader Peter
O’Donnell got his hands dirty, with armament
technicians closely supervising the loading of a
GBU-24 laser-guided bomb for the final sortie.
6SQN Armament Technician, Sergeant Simone
Cazneaux joined the Air Force in 1991 and spent
12 years working on F-111s before taking on a
posting at ARDU.
Having spent his entire Air Force career on the
same aircraft type, SGT Cazneaux chose to return
to 6SQN in 2008 to see out the F-111 era.
“It is quite emotional watching the last bomb being
loaded,” SGT Cazneaux said.
“I felt a tingle run up my spine as I reflected on
the last 19 years I’ve spent working on the Pigs.”
The bomb camp provided aircrew with the
opportunity to expend HE weapons, utilising tactics
they do not necessarily practice every day.
“Some profiles that were flown tested and
evaluated contingency plans that should be
second nature,” FLTLT Bismarck said.
Environmental factors such as wind, cloud
cover and limited moon illumination during
BACKGROuND: Two F-111s taxi out from the ordnance
loading area prior to take off at RAAF Base Amberley
during Exercise Chong Ju. ABOVe: Pilot, Flying Officer
Daniel Mills (left) and Air Combat Officer, Flight Lieutenant
Leon Izatt, plan the day’s mission for Exercise Chong Ju
in the No.6 Squadron operational planning room at RAAF
By Flight Lieutenant Skye Smith
The AMB TTF faces significant change as it
transitions from the delivery of F-111 to Super
Hornet training. This includes instructor availability
as many are currently undergoing training to qualify
on the new aircraft.
“However, effective planning and the overall
reduction in the amount of required F-111 training
due to its impending retirement ensured we
overcame any issues,” FLTLT Mulcahy said.
Some TTF instructors were placed in a unique
situation when they were called upon to deliver
Super Hornet training without having any previous
practical experience on the aircraft.
“This was not an issue for the F-111 though as
all of the F-111 instructors had more than 10 years
of practical experience working on the aircraft”.
A significant difference between the F-111 and
Super Hornet training is the modularised training
system for the F-111.
“For example, students would attend a week-long
training course on a particular aircraft system
and then return back to the workplace to consolidate
what they learned in a practical environment
before returning back to 278SQN to undertake
their next course.”
In comparison, Super Hornet training is conducted
in a single block format with all training provided
at the start of employment on the aircraft. These
courses range from eight to 12 weeks in duration
depending on the trade.
The initial F-111 technical training course was
undertaken in 1968, with an LAC P.R Adnams
receiving the first course certificate issued in
Australia on 24 April that year.
The course was No.1 Aircrew Egress Systems
Technician Course and was three weeks or 84 hours
in duration. At that time, 278SQN was known as
the F-111 training centre.
During the last four decades, 278SQN TTF AMB
(and its earlier iterations) has trained every F-111
technician that has come to work on the jet.
This equates to more than 20,000 students and well
above 13,000 separate trade-specific, generic and
safety-related courses during 42 years.
F-111 trade training has changed dramatically
since Warrant Officer John Bland, WOFF TTF AMB,
graduated in 1984.
“The training received then was far different to
the training we currently conduct. The training has
evolved for the better during the past 42 years,”
WOFF Bland said.
The staff at 278SQN TTF AMB are looking forward
to joining together with the 82WG fraternity in
farewelling the F-111 and celebrating its proud
history in style at the end of the year.
night sorties provided additional challenges
to the crews.
This training was similar to the type of strike
missions F-111 crews have become accustomed
to. However, the bomb camp allowed aircrew to
see the weapon impact and assess hit/miss results
6SQN typically used the SWBTA twice a year for
the graduation of aircrew operational conversions
during Exercise Northern Challenge, which were
based out of RAAF Townsville. 1SQN also used
SWBTA twice a year for Joint Tactical Airborne
Controller (JTAC) HE training or major exercises
such as Talisman Sabre.
Most 6SQN aircrew will convert onto the Super
Hornet as the unit transitions platform types next
“I feel very privileged to be selected as one of the
final crews on the F-111,” FLTLT Bismarck said.
“But I am also looking forward to the new systems
that the F/A-18F has to offer.”
The F-111s will be farewelled in December this year,
having served the nation for the last 37 years, making
them the longest serving aircraft in the RAAF.
lasT hurrah for F-111s
By Flight Lieutenant Skye Smith
ABOVe: Flying Officer Daniel Mills, a pilot with No.6 Squadron, in the cockpit of F-111 A8-130, completes pre-flight
checks prior to take off for Exercise Chong Ju at RAAF Base Amberley.
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