Each year Wings Over Illawarra is supported by all three arms of the Australian Defence Force and 2018 will be no different, with air displays and static exhibits from the Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Australian Navy and Australian Army.
2018 will see the largest collection of Australian Defence Force aircraft ever seen in the Illawarra. Although the ADF is yet to confirm exactly what aircraft will be attending Wings Over Illawarra 2018, below is a taste of what is expected.
Royal Australian Air Force
The RAAF F/A-18A/B Hornet is a multi-role fighter designed for both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions. It is capable of air interception, air combat, close air support of ground troops, and interdiction of enemy supply lines including shipping. The two Hornets that brought the house down in the 2017 airshow were from No. 2 Operational Conversion Unit (2OCU), RAAF Base Williamtown, who train pilots transferring to Hornet squadrons. The Hornet was developed for the US Navy and Marine Corps and has been a very successful aircraft. It is also used by Canada, Finland, Kuwait, Malaysia, Spain and Switzerland.
The C-17A Globemaster III provides Air Force with an unprecedented capacity for strategic air lift. It allows Australia to rapidly deploy troops, supplies, combat vehicles, heavy equipment and helicopters anywhere in the world. The C-17A Globemaster is a high-wing four-engine heavy transport. It has three times the carrying capacity of the C-130 Hercules, allowing Australia to rapidly deploy troops, supplies, combat vehicles, heavy equipment and helicopters anywhere in the world. It can carry up to 77 tonnes, ranging from an Abrams Tank, four Bushmaster vehicles, three Black Hawk helicopters, or be converted to an aero-medical evacuation capacity. Based at RAAF Base Amberley, the eight C-17As provided the backbone of the air link for Operation SLIPPER in Afghanistan. Capable of landing on dirt strips as short as 3,500 feet, it carried supplies and personnel between Australia and the Middle East.
The C-130J Hercules is a medium-sized tactical air lifter. Capable of carrying 120 passengers, or seven pallets of cargo, their ability to land on short or unsurfaced airstrips makes them highly desirable for regional air lift in conjunction with the C-27J Spartan. Based at RAAF Base Richmond, the 12 C-130J Hercules are also capable of air dropping supplies and parachuting personnel. The C-130J Hercules are an important air link with the Middle East, carrying supplies and personnel between locations in theatre. The C-130J is also an important asset in Australia’s search and survivor assistance and disaster relief efforts. The C-130J aircraft were an integral part of Operation PAKISTAN ASSIST II, Operation PACIFIC ASSIST, Operation CHRISTCHURCH ASSIST, Operation YASI ASSIST, Operation ACCORDION and Operation OKRA.
The RAAF's elite formation aerobatic display team will be putting on a sensational display as always in the Pilatus PC-9/A aircraft. The Pilatus PC-9/A two-seat single-engine turboprop aircraft is the principal basic training aircraft of the Australian Defence Force. At RAAF Base Pearce, trainee ADF pilots, having successfully completed the Basic Flying Course at the ADF Basic Flying Training School at Tamworth, undertake the Advanced Flying Training Course with No 2 Flying Training School, during which they fly 130 hours in the PC-9/A. Upon successful completion, graduates are awarded their wings and posted to a flying squadron.
Royal Australian Navy
The RAN MRH90 Taipan helicopter is operated by 808 squadron from HMAS Albatross in Nowra. The Multi Role Helicopter (MRH) will replace the ADF's existing Black Hawk and Sea King fleets with increased and improved capability, ability and capacity to meet emerging requirements. 46 MRH90 aircraft are being acquired for Navy and Army. The MRH90 capability will have more built-in safety features that meet or exceed today's requirements and utilise the latest technology including composite materials and fly-by-wire systems that will provide more efficient maintenance.
Alongside the MRH90 you will find the S-70B-2 Seahawk helicopter operated by 816 sqauadron, also from HMAS Albatross in Nowra. The Seahawk is an integral part of a ship's weapons and sensor systems. With its unique sensor suite and integrated weapons systems the helicopter extends the combat radius of the ship by finding, localising and attacking where appropriate, surface or submarine targets either independently or in conjunction with other forces.
The Black Hawk is a multi-role helicopter ideally suited to its primary role of providing air mobility for troops and equipment in the battle zone. Black Hawks can also carry out aerial reconnaissance, observation, direction of artillery fire, casualty evacuation and aerial fire support. When required the aircraft plays a vital role in community support tasks such as Search and Rescue and the provision of flood relief.