2021 will see the largest collection of Australian Defence Force aircraft ever seen in the Illawarra.

Each year Wings Over Illawarra is supported by all three arms of the Australian Defence Force, with air displays and static exhibits from the Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Australian Navy and Australian Army. Although the Defence line-up for Wings Over Illawarra 2021 is yet to be finalised, here’s what made all of the noise in the past:

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 2018 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-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 Hawk 127 lead-in fighter prepares qualified Air Force pilots for conversion to F/A-18A and F/A-18B Hornets and F/A-18F Super Hornets. The Hawk is operated by Number 76 Squadron at RAAF Base Williamtown near Newcastle, and Number 79 Squadron at RAAF Base Pearce near Perth. The Hawk is a low-wing, all-metal aircraft, fitted with a navigation and attack system, and powered by a single Adour Mk 871 turbofan engine. The Hawk 127 weapons and equipment system allows for the carriage, aiming and release, or firing of practice weapons, conventional and laser-guided bombs, AIM-9M “Sidewinder” missiles and a 30mm cannon.

Royal Australian Navy

The EC-135 T2+ was recently brought into service to replace the retiring S-70B-2 Squirrel as the Navy’s primary aircrew trainer. Operated by 723 Squadron at Navy Air Station, HMAS Albatross, the EC-135 is a military training helicopter that offers a glass cockpit with high visibility, a multi-axis auto-pilot, plus other advanced technologies to help instructors perform training missions. With the performance and safety of a twin-engine helicopter, it is similar to the multi-role and combat helicopters now in service with the ADF.

725 Squadron’s MH-60R Seahawk is the Royal Australian Navy’s next generation submarine hunter and anti-surface warfare helicopter and will form a very important part of it’s operations for years to come. The MH-60R is equipped with a highly sophisticated combat systems designed to employ Hellfire air-to-surface missiles and the Mark 54 anti-submarine torpedo. The primary missions of the ‘Romeo’ helicopter is anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare. Secondary missions include search and rescue, logistics support, personnel transport and medical evacuation.

The RAN MRH-90 Taipan helicopter, also from HMAS Albatross in Nowra, is operated by 808 Squadron. 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 has more built-in safety features that meet or exceed today’s requirements and utilises the latest technology including composite materials and fly-by-wire systems that provide more efficient maintenance.