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RAAF and UK’s RAF sign landmark agreement

written by Adam Thorn | December 2, 2020

The RAAF's newest F-35A Lightning II aircraft A35-016 is marshalled into position at No. 3 Squadron at RAAF Base Williamtown. (Defence)
The RAAF’s newest F-35A Lightning II aircraft A35-016 is marshalled into position at No. 3 Squadron at RAAF Base Williamtown. (Defence)

The RAAF and the UK’s RAF have signed a landmark agreement to formalise their long-standing co-operation, which allows the two organisations to share bases and information.

The Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld, said he welcomed the UK’s “renewed engagement” in the face of an “uncertain geostrategic situation” in the Indo-Pacific.

“Our forces share multiple platforms; from the venerable C-130 Hercules, to the very new F-35 Lightning, and to our future platforms like the MQ-9B SkyGuardian,” said AIRMSHL Hupfeld.

“All of our shared capabilities provide valuable opportunities for us to work together to achieve our capability and interoperability goals.

“Exploiting areas of common ground between our Royal Australian Air Force and the Royal Air Force will help us to respond to our countries’ respective national interests.”


The two countries are currently negotiating a trade and movement deal sparked by Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.

Earlier this year, AIRMSHL Hupfeld gave an exclusive interview to the Australian Aviation podcast, above, where he promised the days of the RAAF competing with the Navy and Army are long gone.

Speaking to host Phil Tarrant, he said, “There’s a very strong level of trust now within the strategic centre, and between the services, so that we’re not out there fighting against each other for that rare dollar that we all seek to be able to acquire the capabilities we need.

“We have conversations to make sure we can prioritise between all of us to find out what is the best outcome.”

AIRMSHL Hupfeld was giving one of his first public interviews since the government announced it was committing $270 billion to defence spending over the next 10 years – some $75 million more than previously planned.

The 2020 Force Structure Plan suggested Australia was seeking to take a more pro-active approach to defence in the Indo-Pacific region, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison declaring that a post-COVID-19 world could be “poorer, more dangerous and more disorderly”.

It was followed by the 2020 Defence Strategic Update that advocated a more holistic approach to combating tension – including a ‘Shape, Deter and Respond’ ethos that advocated the military working closely with policymakers and diplomats to ‘shape’ the world to avoid military intervention if possible.

“People are much more aware of how they need to engage with their joint colleagues,” said AIRMSHL Hupfeld of the need to work more closely with other departments of the military.

“Yes, we’re collegiate, but I don’t use that in a sense that means that we’re not prepared, we’re not courageous enough to stand up and put our views forward.”

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Comment (1)

  • I presume that the “$75 million more than previously planned” in the fifth last paragraph should actually read as “$75 billion”….

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