The Royal Australian Air Force is the aerial branch of the Australian Defence Force. The RAAF is the youngest of the three branches of the Defence Force. Its mission is to provide Australia with a modern, efficient aerial force that can be used for defense and for overseas operations. The Air Force plays an important role in the defense of Australia’s airspace and waters. It is also involved in combat and peacekeeping operations.
The Royal Australian Air Force has played an active role in a number of important conflicts. It was involved in both the First and the Second World Wars and it also participated in the Korean and Vietnam wars and in the Iraq War. The RAAF has also been involved in a number of peacekeeping and observation operations run by the UN, for example in the Middle East and between India and Pakistan. The Australian Air Force has also been instrumental in Australian efforts in East Timor, where the Air Force has been supplying an international peacekeeping force led by Australia.
The Royal Australian Air Force currently has approximately 15,430 personnel and a fleet of 284 aircraft. The RAAF is composed of a number of flying and non-flying squadrons. The flying squadrons include 18 flying squadrons and four training units and schools. There are also 14 non-flying squadrons.
The aircraft operated by the RAAF include 71 McDonnell Douglas Hornets and 11 Super Hornets, 21 General Dynamics F111 Aardvarks, 33 BAE Systems Hawks, 65 Pilatus PC 9s, 8 Beechcraft Super King Airs, 6 Boeing 737s, 5 Airbus A330 MRTTs, 21 AP 3C Orions, and 2 IAI Heron unmanned aerial vehicles. The RAAF also has a number of transport aircraft.
The modern Royal Australian Air Force is very active. Over the last decade, it has been continuously involved in operations, including both conflict and peacekeeping activities. The Air Force is also responsible for protecting Australian airspace, in which capacity it has been involved in activities during important political events. It also operates regular surveillance flights over Australian waters to search for incidences of illegal fishing, marine pollution and the smuggling of both people and drugs.
The Commander in Chief of the Australian Defence Force is the Queen’s representative. The current commander in chief is the Governor General Quentin Bryce.
The commander of the Australian Defence Force is the Chief of the Defence Force. The current chief is Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston.
The commander of the Royal Australian Air Force is the Chief of Air Force. The current chief is Mark Binskin.
The Royal Australian Air Force is in the process of modifying much of its equipment since many of the Air Force’s older aircraft are nearing the end of their service lifetimes.
Planned acquisitions by the RAAF include a number of different types of aircraft to replace its older aircraft and modernize its fleet. The Air Force is expected to receive as many as 100 new F35A Lightening IIs from Lockheed Martin, with deliveries schedules to begin in 2014. Some of these new aircraft will replace the older Super hornets from 2020 onwards. In order to prevent a gap in the capability of the strike force between 2010, when the F111 begins to be retired, and the delivery of the new F35As, the Air Force will be acquiring 24 new Boeing Super Hornets. The RAAF has been considering purchasing Growlers, an aircraft that can be used in electronic warfare. Twelve of the new Super Hornets are expected to be wired so that they will be ready for conversion for electronic warfare, if it becomes necessary.
The Australian Air Force will also need to acquire eight new maritime patrol aircraft in order to replace its Orions. Australia has been involved in developing the new Boeing P8 Poseidon, but the Air Force has not yet committed to purchasing these aircraft as replacements for the Orions. The Air Force will be purchasing sic Project Wedgetail aircraft from Boeing. These are expected to be used beginning in 2011. Five new Airbus aircraft are required to replace the old Boeing 707s for use in transport and aerial refueling. The DHC4 Caribou planes will need to be replaced with ten new tactical aircraft. Replacements will also need to be made for the PC9 aircraft currently used in training. The Royal Australian Air Force will make its decision about these replacements between 2012 and 2015. One possible choice is the Pilatus PC21. The Australian Air Force also requires two new Super Hercules aircraft, and eight new UAVs to expand its surveillance capabilities.