The countdown is ticking to the F-111’s formal retirement and final flight, with the RAAF hosting a media day to detail 6SQN’s operations as the world’s last F-111 unit and to preview December 3’s formal retirement and final flight.
“We’ve had this aircraft over a third of the time this squadron has been in existence, so it [the F-111] is in our blood, 6SQN CO WGCDR Michael ‘Micka’ Gray, a 22 year F-111 nav/ACO veteran, told media on November 23. “The thing I’ve noticed with the F-111 over its years since I came in as a young fellow is that we’ve continually upgraded the aircraft, and also the way we operated it. I think it is typical of Australia … it is in our psyche to get every last bit of capability out of the aircraft and do things with it that people didn’t expect you to do.”
6SQN currently has around 10 F-111s on strength, and has been consistently able to generate four aircraft for flying operations each day, despite the draw-down.
Since 1973 the F-111 has been Australia’s primary strike deterent weapon. It is being replaced in RAAF service by 24 Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornets, with the RAAF’s 1SQN expected to declare initial operating capability with the Super by mid December.
The F-111’s retirement will be covered in detail in the January/February edition of Australian Aviation.