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RAAF welcomes back No. 80 Squadron in reformation ceremony

written by Robert Dougherty | May 1, 2024

Air Marshal Robert Chipman, Royal Australian Chief of Air Force, inspects his Airmen during the No. 80 Squadron reformation ceremony on 15 April 2024 at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. (Image: Samuel King Jr/US Air Force)

The Royal Australian Air Force has officially welcomed No. 80 Squadron back into service during a joint reformation ceremony in the United States.

Royal Navy, Royal Air Force, and Royal Australian Air Force personnel attended the official No. 80 Squadron reformation ceremony at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida on 15 April this year.

The new squadron provides mission data programming and software development for the Australian and United Kingdom F-35 aircraft types, as a component of the Australia, Canada and United Kingdom Reprogramming Laboratory.

“Eighty Squadron provides a unique opportunity for overseas service for those in the Royal Navy and the chance to work at the leading edge of software and data-enabled weapons systems,” said the squadron’s new commanding officer, Commander Chris Wilcox RN.

“We are in the enviable position of being autonomous in the way that we work, innovate and develop this capability for our warfighters.”


United Kingdom personnel will account for roughly half of the No. 80 Squadron contingent in a blend of Fleet Air Arm and surface fleet backgrounds with aircrew, air engineers, and electronic warfare specialists.

“Working overseas in Florida on F-35 mission data reprogramming has been a fantastic opportunity to both use and expand my EW knowledge as an LS EW in the Royal Navy,” said electronic warfare leading hand Jeff Goodwin.

“Collaborating with US personnel as well as RAF and RAAF, along with getting the chance to participate in Exercise Pitch Black in Australia, where rapid reprogramming capabilities in a simulated war environment were tested, has been a particular highlight and very rewarding being that it is not something I would likely get to do outside of this role.

“Fifth-generation fighter jet experience is rare in my branch and is invaluable experience to take back into my next assignment.”

The squadron name had previously been in use by the Royal Air Force and Royal Australian Air Force more than 55 and 78 years ago, respectively.

The Royal Australian Air Force’s No. 80 Squadron was originally formed in September 1943 as a fighter squadron and equipped with P-40 Kittyhawk fighter aircraft.

The unit undertook bomber escort, convoy escort, armed reconnaissance, ground attack and patrol missions against Imperial Japanese forces in the Pacific during World War II.

The unit was redesignated the First Tactical Air Force on 25 October 1944, flew reconnaissance patrols over Japanese-occupied areas following the Japanese surrender and was later disbanded on 11 July 1946.

The Royal Air Force’s No. 80 Squadron was originally formed in 1917 and saw service on the Western Front, World War I, World War II and post-war before being disbanded in 1969.

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