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Australia’s air power on show in Adelaide


Australia’s latest airborne defence capabilities will be on show in Adelaide this weekend when the Royal Australian Air Force hosts its first major air show in more than three years.

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The Edinburgh Air Show in South Australia will include air and ground displays of many of the Royal Australian Air Force latest acquisitions including the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter.

The show on the northern outskirts of Adelaide coincides with the centenary of the first epic flight from London to Darwin by South Australian brothers Ross and Keith Smith.

The Smith brothers left England in their Vickers Vimy on 12 November 1919 and flew into Darwin on 10 December to claim first prize in the Great Air Race.

The air show also celebrates the Fifth-generation air force – the latest technological evolution of aircraft, which includes the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter and the P-8A border patrol aircraft.

Other modern aircraft on display in the air and on the ground across the weekend include the E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft, the C-27J Spartan battlefield airlifter and the C-17A Globemaster III.

The Royal Australian Air Force’s aerobatic display team the Roulettes will perform their first display at an air show in their new Pilatus PC-21 aircraft, which replaced the PC-9A earlier this year.

The Roulettes will perform their high show in their new Pilatus PC-21 aircraft for the first time at Edinburgh Air Show. Picture: Brenton Kwaterski/Department of Defence.

A visiting RAF Airbus A400M long-range strategic cargo transporter will also be on static display.

Among the highlights of the non-defence planes will include an aerial display by former RAAF fighter pilot Matt Hall who is the current Red Bull Air Race World Champion and will take to the skies in his race plane.

It is the first time Edinburgh will host an air show since 2007.

Head of Air Shows Air Commodore Noddy Sawade said almost all of the RAAF’s key aircraft had changed since 2007.

He said the November 9-10 event would be a celebration of old and new.

“We’ve got a great Warbird historic display through to the Tiger Moth era through to the WWII Hurricanes and Spitfires and into the first generation of jets including the Meteor and Sabre,” Air Commodore Sawade said.

“It was Edinburgh’s turn but we also wanted it to line up with the Epic Flight and have a theme of Vimy to Fifth Generation in 100 years just to give people the understanding that the cutting edge 100 years ago was a wood, wire and fabric bi-plane and they can also look at what an F-35 can do.

“We know that the Smith brothers are well known in South Australia and it gives the state recognition that is has been in this business for a long time and will be for a long time to come.

A Royal Australian Air Force E-7A Wedgetail arrives at the Australian Defence Force’s main operating base in the Middle East region. Picture: Dan Pinhorn/Department of Defence.

“We haven’t got the Vickers Vimy from Adelaide Airport but we’ve got a pretty impressive model and that will be on display with a lot of the Ross and Keith Smith memorabilia.”

RAAF Base Edinburgh is home to 3500 RAAF and Australian Army personnel and key defence primes including BAE Systems, Raytheon Australia and Airbus Group Australia Pacific. Major recent investments are being made to support the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft and the MQ-4C Triton unmanned aerial vehicles, which will also be based at Edinburgh.

The Australian Government has committed to acquiring 15 of the Boeing P-8A Poseidons between 2016 and 2023 to replace its AP-3C Orion fleet.

“All of those P8 aircraft will be based out of Edinburgh so they will be a familiar sight in the South Australian skies and they are going to do both static and flying displays at the air show so it will be great for people to see that as well,” Air Commodore Sawade said.

“The Roulettes will also have their new aircraft, the PC-21s, and they will be doing their high show, which is their full display, for the first time ever in the PC-21s.

“It’s our major southern base and it’s had a lot of work done to it to accommodate the new P-8s and the Triton down the track.

“The base has changed a lot and is considered extremely important in our surveillance and response type operations.”

A RAAF P-8A Poseidon supports sea trials for the NUSHIP Hobart in the Gulf St Vincent off the coast of Adelaide. Picture: Craig Barrett/Department of Defence

About 25,000 people are expected to attend the air show on each of the two days.

On the Friday before the air show (November 8), 600 Year 9 high school students will attend a STEM day, aimed at inspiring them to take up an aerospace career.

The air show will also feature a commercial trades hall where more than 60 exhibitors will have stands to showcase their capabilities to the public.

South Australia is also pivotal in Australia’s $90 billion plan to regenerate the Royal Australian Navy with new submarines, frigates and offshore patrol vessels. The Attack Class submarines will be built at the Osborne Naval Shipyard in Adelaide, which is undergoing a $500 million upgrade.

The state also has a strong link with space. Late last year Adelaide was announced as the home of the Australian Space Agency, to which a $6 million Mission Control centre for small satellites and an educational space discovery centre has since been added.

“We’re well aware of the intent for South Australia to be top of the pack when it comes to defence industries in the future so the commercial hall really is showing off a lot of that industry – not just the big multi-national companies but the small local companies will be on display and they’ll be able to show their contributions to things like the F-35 program and a few others.

“It will give everyone a good understanding of where we are in South Australia but also what young people can aspire to and I think that’s terrific.”

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