Swing-Wing Fighter Entered RAAF Service In 1973
After 37 years of service, the RAAF retired its fleet of F-111
fighters on December 3. The twin-engine swing-wing aircraft was
introduced to the Royal Australian Air Force in 1973. It can take
off and land at relatively low speeds with the wings swept forward,
then fly at more than twice the speed of sound with its wings
tucked back. It can fly close to the ground at supersonic speeds,
following the terrain to avoid detection.
The aircraft became known affectionately as the "Pig" for its
ability to hunt at night with its nose in the weeds, thanks to its
As prime contractor for F-111 through-life support activities
since 1996, Boeing Defence Australia designed, developed and
delivered technologies and modifications to improve the operational
effectiveness of the F-111 fleet from its facilities at RAAF Base
Amberley. These upgrades included aircraft overhauls conducted
under the F-111 Weapons System Business Unit (WSBU) contract.
Awarded to Boeing in 2001, the WSBU contract was the largest
contract awarded by the Commonwealth of Australia at the time and
covered all major upgrades to the fleet's airframe, avionics and
weapons systems, including:
- Providing airframe maintenance from R1 (basic level) through R5
- Providing system analysis, design, modification and
- Designing and integrating software and hardware to support the
AGM-142 missile, the longest range air-to-ground missile available
within the Australian Defence Force.
- Modifying radar warnings.
Additional programs and facilities that Boeing has operated in
support of the fleet include a fuel tank repair program, a
coldproof load test facility, an F-111 ground test team, and a wing
"Over the years, hundreds of Boeing employees have played a
vital role in maintaining the operational effectiveness of the
F-111 fleet and some, like me, have an even longer history with the
platform after working on them during our time in the RAAF," said
Ian Gabriel, F-111 program manager, Boeing Defence Australia. "On
behalf of all Boeing personnel who supported the aircraft, it has
been a privilege to have played a part in the rich military history
of the F-111."
"Throughout Boeing's long association with the F-111, we've
forged strong relationships with the RAAF, our supplier partners
and the local Ipswich community," said John Duddy, vice president
and managing director, Boeing Defence Australia. "This could not
have been achieved without the consistency and commitment of the
Boeing personnel who have worked on the platform, and I thank them
all. As the F-111 retires and we enter a new generation of
Australian air defense through the F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, Boeing
looks forward to continuing to work with the RAAF to help protect
Australia and its people."