AUSTRALIA HAS FORMALLY requested Congressional approval through the US DoD for purchase of 15 surplus USAF F-111G aircraft as part of a $110 million sale which includes 12 spare engines and logistics support. Four of the aircraft have already been moved to McClellan AFB, California, for preparation, but the remainder are still in USAF service in the training role with the 27th FW/428th FTS at Cannon AFB, New Mexico. The F-111G is now being supplanted by the F-111E in the training role, making all 30 examples of the variant, a conversion of the FB111A, redundant.
The aircraft will join 18 F-lllCs and four RF-111Cs already in RAAF service.
These aircraft are to undergo an avionics update programme with Rockwell with the first aircraft now nearing completion at the company’s Palmdale plant in California. Nearly 90% of the avionics have been replaced and performance/evaluation flight tests are scheduled to begin in July 1995 at which time the first production upgrade will also be rolled-out at Amberley, Australia. Although the upgrade was aimed at keeping the aircraft in service until 2010, it seems likely that they may have to remain active for a further ten years beyond that due to a continuing squeeze on the Australian defence budget.