Home' Defence Magazine : Issue 8 2010 Contents 32 www.defence.gov.au/defencemagazine
The farewell on 3 December of one of the Royal Australian
Air Force’s fondest flying machines, the F-111, will mark
the end of an era and also another very significant year,
according to Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Mark Binskin.
In a year that marked achievements for platforms
including the Super Hornet, Wedgetail, Heron, Orion
and the C-17A Globemaster, the farewell to the F-111
will also provide an avenue to honour all of the men
and women who flew, maintained and supported the
F-111 during its service to the Air Force.
AIRMSHL Binskin said the Air Force is continuing
to grow, with the permanent Air Force strength
at 14,759 as at 1 October; an increase of 430
since the same time last year.
And despite the achievements of the various
platforms, AIRMSHL Binskin keeps his greatest
accolades for the men and women who keep the
various aircraft running.
“I think the highs have been in the improved overall
mission success rate on operations,” AIRMSHL
Binskin told Defence Magazine.
“That’s despite a lot of the challenges facing our
support personnel out there. A lot of the platforms are
aging and they do require a lot of work and a lot of
effort, and I think the increased mission success rates
have been testament to what they’ve been doing.
“The big one that stood out for me, and that’s only
been in the last month, has been in the Hornet world
– the classic Hornet world. They have worked hard in
the last couple of years to improve the serviceability
rates and we’re now starting to see the fruits of
“Through sheer initiative and hard work, they’re
starting to deliver. That was shown in the last month or
two when you look at the number of Hornets that were
deployed around Australia and around the region on
exercises – they did a fantastic job.
“I’ve singled out one particular area, but I could
look into every FEG across air force and show you
where there have been some great successes during
the year,” AIRMSHL Binskin said.
Further exemplifying the attitude of Air Force people
came from the Chief’s visit to Pakistan during
Operation Pakistan Assist II in October.
When he asked his people if they had any complaints,
the only response was that more couldn’t be done.
“Living in a space the size of a soccer field for a couple
of months was pretty stressful, but that didn’t worry
them because they just wanted to be able to do more
for the Pakistani people,” AIRMSHL Binskin said.
He also met a couple deployed on the Operation who
had postponed their wedding for the deployment.
“I was in one of the tents and there was a couple
of Defence people in the team looking after a young
Pakistani baby that was only a week old.
“I was sitting there talking to one of the girls and
she said, ‘oh, we postponed our wedding to come
“I just dred to think what the mother of the
bride thought about all that...but it just shows
the dedication of the people we’ve got in the Air
Force and it makes you proud.
“I just hope I don’t run into her mother and I’m
blamed for postponing the wedding.”
Similar dedication has seen 1237 Air Force personnel
deployed on operations Haiti Assist, Kruger, Slipper,
Resolute, Astute, Tower, Anode, Azure and Pakistan
Assist II. All of the FEGs and several of the non-
service groups were also involved, including 108
In February, the AP-3C Orion detachment in the MEAO
reached another significant milestone when it
achieved seven years of continuous operational
The Orions had flown more than 1750 missions,
involving 16,500 flying hours supporting operations
Bastille, Falconer, Catalyst and Slipper.
In March, the C-130s surpassed 20,000 hours since
the detachment started in 2003 in support of the
MEAO and had delivered approximately 68 million
pounds of cargo.
In September, just more than a year and 4500 tonnes
since their first intra-theatre mission, the C-17A
aircraft recorded 100 missions in the Middle East. The
C-17A has supported operations Kruger and Catalyst
in Iraq and Operation Slipper in Afghanistan.
The Heron remotely-piloted aircraft detachment is
providing essential support to the Mentoring Task
Force and Special Operations Task Group. Between
late April and late July, the detachment flew more
than 900 hours or approximately 100 missions.
Air Force engaged in Exercise Pitch Black 2010, which
marked the Republic of Singapore Air Force’s 20th
anniversary of participation in the RAAF’s premier air
combat training exercise.
Air Force also participated in exercises Red Flag,
Bersama Shield, Bersama Padu, Rajawali Ausindo,
Kakadu, Singaroo, Trial Muffler, Air Warrior II,
Combined Strength and Willoh.
“We’ve done a lot during the year, and we keep
talking about the future and what it has in store, but
the fact is that this year was the future,” AIRMSHL
“We’ve introduced four new aircraft types into
service. At Christmas time, we’ll go operational with
Super Hornets, we’ve introduced King Air, we’ve
introduced Heron, we’ve introduced the Wedgetail
and hopefully soon, we’ll have the
KC-30 tankers accepted.”
But in sharpening his focus on the future, AIRMSHL
Binskin says that next year’s challenges will be
maintaining operational tempo and diving deeply into
the Strategic Reform Program while continuing to
deliver new capabilities.
A focus of Air Force’s reform efforts lies with Combat
Support Group, which has remained largely
unchanged in more than 10 years of operations.
The final structure of the expeditionary side of
Combat Support Group will be settled early next year,
followed by phased transition to
the refocused and reformed Combat
“But as I often say to people, don’t
just focus on the real big ticket
items,” AIRMSHL Binskin said.
“There’s a lot of day-to-day items that
will provide us with the reforms that
End of an ERA marks
“We’ve done a lot
during the year, and
we keep talking about
the future and what it
has in store, but the
fact is that this year
was the future.”
Chief of Air Force
Air Marshal Mark Binskin
LefT: Air Marshal Mark Binskin and the Chief
of Air Staff, Pakistan Air Force, Air Chief Marshal
Rao Qamar Suleman (right) talk to Air Force
Nurse, Flight Lieutenant Lynda Henderson, in
the Australian Medical Task Force health centre
during Operation Pakistan Assist II. Photos: Petty
Officer Damian Pawlenko
By Michael Weaver
aBOVe: Flight Lieutenant Leon Izatt from
No. 6 Squadron shows students from Darwin High
School the cockpit of an F-111 during a school visit
to RAAF Base Darwin. Photo: Corporal Hamish
Paterson LefT: Chief of Air Force Air Marshal
Mark Binskin addresses Air Force members of Joint
Task Force 636 during his visitVp Cockatoo during
Operation Pakistan Assist II.
we need to be able to fund the future force.”
Next year will also mark the Air Force’s 90th birthday
and while not as old as the other two services,
AIRMSHL Binskin said he is very proud of what the
organisation has done.
Key celebrations will be marked at the Avalon Air
Show, along with an air pilgrimage from Temora to
Point Cook at the end of March.
There is a still lot to achieve before the Air Force’s
90th year ends and AIRMSHL Binskin is cognisant of
his people needing to take a break and spend time
with their families.
“There’s been a lot asked of Air Force in the last
12 months and we’ve delivered.
“So I hope that during the Christmas period, people
do get away for a break, do get a chance to recharge
their batteries, do get a chance to thank the families
and spend some time with them.
“It has been well earned, but we need to come back
next year and be able to jump into it pretty quickly.
There’ll be a lot asked of us again as well.”
faR RIgHT: The future is here: Flight Sergeant Barry McCrabb receives a maintenance update from the Canadian MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA
contractors, about the Australian-operated Heron Remotely Piloted Vehicle (RPV) at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan. Photo: Able Seaman Imagery Specialist Jo Dilorenzo
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