I’m sad to say they’re on their way…

20101202raaf8202385_0081 RAAF F-111 Farewell

Air Force’s iconic F-111s were farewelled today at a parade at RAAF Base Amberley in Queensland following nearly four decades of service to Australia. The retirement of the F-111 fleet marks a significant milestone in the history of Australian military aviation. The long range strike bombers have supported Australia’s national security by providing a potent strategic deterrent.

The Air Force component of the Australian Federation Guard from Canberra acted as the Escort Squadron for today’s parade and the Air Force Band from Melbourne also participated.

The parade was hosted by Air Commodore Chris Sawade, CSC and the Parade Commander was Group Captain Steve Roberton, Officer Commanding Number 82 Wing. Commanding Number 1 Squadron was Wing Commander Glen Braz, and commanding Number 6 Squadron was Wing Commander Micka Gray.

Air Vice Marshal Mark Skidmore AM, Air Commander Australia, Air Vice Marshal Geoffrey Brown AM, Deputy Chief of Air Force were official guests. The Reviewing Officer of today’s parade was Air Marshal Mark Binskin AO, Chief of Air Force.

The hundreds of RAAF air crew and thousands of ground based personnel who have worked hard to fly and maintain F-111 capability during the last 37 years were recognised at the parade today.

Those who lost their lives in F-111 accidents and who died or have suffered serious health effects from working on the deseal reseal programs were also remembered.

Australia has been the sole operator of F-111s for more than 10 years, and recently the aircraft have become increasingly expensive to operate and maintain. The F-111G models were withdrawn from service in 2007 and today the F-111Cs and RF-111Cs retired.

A sad day as the last of the ‘Pigs’ disappear from our skies…too expensive by far to keep as a warbird display like Vulcan XH588, cool as they are…can’t see Superbug or F-35 doing burn-off displays…

I only ever had one real contact with the F-111 but it was impressive…we were a Territorial company on annual training in late 1984, dug-in on a hill overlooking the small Waitaki town of Kurow…a contact erupted around the bridge that was the main axis and as the defending platoon withdrew, there was a low rumbling further down the valley…As it grew louder and LOUDER, firing petered and halted as everyone (on both sides) turned to face downstream as a single F-111 barreled up the river, leaving an impressive wake, conducted a simulated strike on the bridge, pulled up into an Immelmann and disappeared back the way it had come…an RAAF F-111 out of Amberley on a trans-Tasman single aircraft penetration…

We were just blown away…obviously this had all been set well previously and we could see why the umpires had so tightly controlled the timing of the first contact on the bridge…still, to have arranged and coordinated that, in 1984, to have a strategic strike aircraft from one Air Force fly 1200+ km ‘in support’ of a Territorial company in another Army was certainly some achievement…

A Coy, 4 O South, Annual Camp, Tekapo - RAAF F-111 strike on Kurow bridge In Other News

It’s somewhat ironic that PFC Bradley’s Manning’s charge sheet has itself been leaked…hmmm…maybe he’s NOT the only leaker in the US DoD…now there’s a thought…and although Julia Gillard decreed Assange’s actions as illegal on Thursday, it seems now that, independent of the Aussie PM’s opinion, that Assange may in fact be criminally liable…remember how the FBI finally pinged Al Capone for the rather mundane offense of tax evasion (Wesley Snipes gets to report next Friday to serve his three years in a Pennsylvania medium security facility for the same offence)? Well, Amazon has just booted Wikileaks for allegedly copyright infringement…which makes sense in that most official documents have some sort of fine print declaring them to be property of the/a government…and thus unauthorised publishing, especially for gain, could be construed as a breach of copyright…certainly, that charge holds more water than the allegedly Swedish rape charges, about which Swedish authorities only get excited when there is a major Wikileaks release (what secrets could Sweden possibly have…?)…

The PC brigade got all excited on Close-Up last night over the NZ GirlI’ve Got A Lovely Pair” campaign in support of breast cancer awareness…unfortunately the haridan fronting to attack this campaign was rude, strident, ill-informed and poorly prepared as well as living firmly in the dark ages…I’d be more worried about Ms Hansen teaching kids than I every would be about mature adults posting legal pics of themselves on the interweb thingie…

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