Home' Defence Magazine : White Paper 2009 Contents 21
• Around 100 fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter
aircraft and associated weapons systems;
• Half of Australia’s F/A-18F Block II Super Hornet fleet will be
configured on the production line to enable them to be converted
to the EA-18G ‘Growler’ electronic attack variant should later
strategic circumstances dictate;
• Delivery of five KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport for air-to-air
refuelling, that will increase the range and endurance of combat
and surveillance aircraft;
• Six new Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C)
aircraft to provide surveillance, command and control functions
to other networked Australian Defence Force platforms;
• Eight new Maritime Patrol Aircraft, which will provide advanced
anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare capabilities as well as
sophisticated maritime search capabilities;
• Enhanced air transport capability options through the acquisition
of a further two additional C-130J Hercules to bring the total
fleet number to 14 aircraft;
• Approximately seven new high-altitude, long-endurance
Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), to compliment the new
Maritime Patrol Aircraft and replace the current AP-3C Orion
fleet with a more comprehensive and advanced maritime
• Up to 10 new tactical battlefield airlifters with a significantly
greater range, speed, payload and protection measures than
the retiring Caribou;
• New and upgraded systems to collect and fuse air surveillance
information from multiple sources to create a recognised air
picture of the Australian Defence Forces’ primary operational
• Improved military air traffic control, navigation and communications
systems that will permit closer alignment of the national systems
for both military and civilian air traffic management;
• The use of modern technology to deliver improved training
outcomes through the application of high fidelity simulation
and mission rehearsal systems.
defence magazine ›
PaPer FOr AIr ForCe
The 2009 Defence White Paper will be marked as a watershed
document for the Royal Australian Air Force, which will transition
the majority of its force in the next 10 years.
By Michael Weaver
hief of air force air Marshal
Mark Binskin said the scale of
the transition is unprecedented
and will involve changes to all
platforms except the hawk
lead-in fighter, c-17 globemaster
and c-130J hercules aircraft.
“Operational tempo is as high as it’s ever been
in Air Force and I don’t see it decreasing in the
coming years, which is an important factor to take
into consideration as we transition to a future force,”
AIRMSHL Binskin said.
“To change the majority of our force in just over
a 10-year period is something that I don’t think we’ve
seen before – certainly not to this scale.
“If you think about the war years of World Wars
One and Two, you used to change out your aircraft on
a regular basis; Air Force was forever transitioning.
“The last time we did a big transition was at the
end of the Hornet introduction at the end of 1989.
Since then, we’ve had the C-130Js when they came
in for basically a one-for-one replacement of the
C-130Es, but we haven’t had a big ticket change-out
go through the majority of the force, so it is a big
challenge for us.”
Rising to that challenge is something Air Force
has been well prepared for after identifying the future
force capability about three years ago. An Air Force
improvement team was created about 18 months ago
and stood up 12 months ago, with a funding secured
for an initial five years.
The improvement team will also ensure the
transition occurs without any appreciable reduction
in operational capability to leave Air Force in the best
position to introduce new capabilities. The team will also
lead Air Force’s part in the Strategic Reform Program.
AIRMSHL Binskin said transition teams will be set
up early in the life of a new system, with the teams to
learn the system and have a direct voice about how it
will be developed and introduced into service.
“We will hit the ground running with a good
idea of what we’re going to do as opposed to getting
the system and then learning how to use it. That will
allow us to stand up the capability fairly quickly,”
AIRMSHL Binskin said.
“We know that we need to have a robust air
combat capability; we know that we need to have
a good airlift capability; we also know we need to
cover humanitarian operations right through to high-
end war fighting.
“These are areas that the White Paper delivers
on, so we then make sure we can field the kinds of
forces that are required in those operations.”
Two of the high profile items in Air Force’s new
air capability are undoubtedly the Joint Strike Fighter
and Super Hornet aircraft and AIRMSHL Binskin is
completely cognisant of being held accountable with
regard to their introduction into service.
Air Force will take delivery of its first Super
Hornet on 8 July this year and will bring the first
six aircraft home in about March next year. Initial
operational capability is planned for the end of
2010, with full operational capability scheduled for
the end of 2012.
The JSF goes to second pass phase during the
middle of this year, with dates for phasing in the
aircraft to be agreed after that time.
AIRMSHL Binskin said that while the JSF
attracts the most attention, there are other
platforms equally deserving of space in magazines
“There are the battlefield airlifters to replace
the Caribous, the new maritime patrol aircraft and
the maritime uninhabited aerial system, which all
play a significant part in what we do. They just
haven’t got the big banner of the JSF,” AIRMSHL
“But it’s not just the aircraft. There’s a lot
of people who work to make the capability –
maintenance and logistics support and force
multipliers like the KC-30, Wedgetail, JORN
(Jindalee Operational Radar Network) and
Surveillance and Response Group assets that
manage the battle space.
“So as a whole package, this will give us far
greater combat reach and combat effect than we
currently have.” Supplementary to this is managing
the infrastructure and Air Force’s commitment to the
Strategic Reform Program, which will see AIRMSHL
Binskin visit all Air Force bases during the coming
months for discussions on the White Paper and
Strategic Reform Program.
He envisages some short-term pain to achieve
the long-term gains, but said he will monitor the
progress and impact on Air Force people very closely.
“In 10 or 15 years time you’d like to be able to
look back and say ‘yep, we had a stretched target,
it was hard, but we got there and because of it we
now a very, very good defence force’, rather than sit
there and not have the force that we could have,”
AIRMSHL Binskin said.
“While we will have to change the way we fly
and fight, it’s just a natural evolution for an air force
to go through.”
a super hornet aircraft creates a vapour
trail during flight. twenty-four Block ii
f/a-18f super hornets are being acquired
as australia’s Bridging air combat
capability to de-risk the transition to a
mature new air combat capability.
aBove: a no.2 squadron wedgetail, airborne early warning and control aircraft, flying over
tomaree headland, port stephens, off raaf Base williamtown.
aBove: chief of air force air Marshal Mark Binskin reads
the defence white paper in his office. Photo: FSGT John Carroll
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