F-111 nears end of the line

written by australianaviation.com.au | November 24, 2010
F-111s on show on November 23. (Gerard Frawley)

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.

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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.

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7 Comments

  • Alan Butters

    says:

    After seeing the display at Williamtown Airshow the F-111 will be missed . With 4 at the show with one on ground display and 3 in the air with a formation of various wing sweep angles but the highlight had to be the Touch and Go “Dump and Burn”.

  • Marc

    says:

    I’m glad the East Coast has got to see these magnificant machines in action… pity the taxpayers on the other side of the continent (who incidentally pay more than their fair share) will never get to see the F111 before withdrawal.

    Bring on Succession 🙂

  • Brian

    says:

    Lemons turned into lemonade – the Pig will be missed by all who were involved with her over the years. It’s time Australia had a flying aircraft museum as part of the RAAF – keep one F111C flying for our next generation to see.

  • Peter Owen

    says:

    I agree with Brians opinion. Hopefully it will be a great idea if the RAAF donates the F-111s to any museums, should keep at least 1, 2 or 3 F-111Cs flying as a private collection. Totally unacceptable for Australia to retire the magnificant F-111 fleet. If I was a Minister of Defence I will certainely keep the F-111s flying and updated. Even though the F-111s never fired a shot in anger, but that is not the point. The aircraft provided Australia with a capability unmatched in the region and therefore a highly effective deterrent.

    The most beautiful aeroplane in the world. The RAAF should have come up with a better idea with the more fancy paint scheme on the jets to make the F-111s look very attractive.

    1. With the Aussie flag markings on the tail fin

    2. The entire airframe with camouflage paint scheme what the RAAF had on the aircraft in the past.

    3. Or something similar to the A21-26 F/A-18A Hornet from the No.2OCU with the overall navy blue, red & white strips and underfuselage light gray schemes what the RAAF celebrated the F/A-18s in 20 Years in service from 5 years ago.

    Cheers

  • Nujje Gygges

    says:

    It is unfortunate but even as old as these aircraft are; they are still controlled by US export controls. There is no way the US would approve a flying F-111 to be operated by civilian operators and Defence has no budget to keep this kind of aircraft flying even – or especially in small doses.

    Having worked on old high tech aircraft, the flight to maintenance ratio gets out of control. The old mirages got to about 1/15 before being withdrawn from service. The F-111 is probably similar.

    I do agree it would have been nice for Defence to do a round Australia furore including the special paint job. I still hold photos of 4 F-111’s in formation doing a dump and burn. Good enough to cook by!

  • Mark Pourzenic

    says:

    As a man who has loved the F-111 my whole life,(was born the day they left the states for their ferry flight 1973),I feel there retirement as one of the sadest days of my life. I was fortunate enough to have attented the media day,and Pigs Tales itself. May I add that the final display of the F-111 at Amberley on December 3rd was one which will live with me for the rest of my days. The airfield attack of 3 pairs of pigs at 250feet and 600 knots is something that can’t be erased from memory,and with that ,I will always remember the mighty PIG..

  • Peter

    says:

    @ Nujjie Gygges – Did you know that one of the Mirages is currently going under restoration to airworthiness?

    I’ve checked it out on the ADF Serials website and this (Australian Aviaton) website, claimed that the A3-42 ex.No.77SQN reportedly has been purchased by an ex RAAF Mirage pilot who intends to restore the jet to airworthiness. The aircraft was purchased from Murray Griffith’s Precision Aerospace at Wangaratta Air Museum, from where it was trucked on a low-loader to Melbourne’s Essendon Airport, where it will be restored, over the weekend of 8-9th May 2010.

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