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Last Updated: Mon Jan 27 11:18:09 UTC 2014







Why Australia Should Retain Its F-111 Fleet

ADA Defender - Are the F-111s Really Stuffed? [Click for more ...]



By far the best recent example of bureaucratic incompetence and dishonesty in Australia's DoD is the completely arbitrary decision to prematurely retire Australia's F-111 fleet, which at full strength accounted for over 50 percent of Australia's striking capability (Image © 2009 C. Kopp).

The F-111 was until recently the backbone of the RAAF providing at full strength more than 50% of the strike capability in the existing fighter fleet.  In late 2003, the Defence bureaucracy in Canberra successfully convinced the Defence Minister that the F-111 would be too expensive to operate past 2010, and gained Federal Government approval to retire the aircraft in the 2010 timescale, after earlier unsuccessful attempts to effect a retirement in 2006.

The decision to retire the F-111 has been neither popular, nor widely accepted as necessary in the expert community. Built in the late 1960s, the F-111 is a contemporary of the US B-52H and B-1B bombers, both of which the US Air Force intends to operate well past 2030.  None of the arguments presented by Defence in Federal Parliament to justify the early retirement of the F-111 were successfully defended in the public debate, as none were truthful.

The plan for early retirement of the F-111 has resulted in a vigorous public debate in the press and the parliamentary commitee system. This website will post a selection of relevant articles, submissions and papers.




The Debate on Premature F-111 Retirement in 2010





Carlo Kopp and
Peter Goon
Submission to the Minister for Defence
Mar 2008
Strategic Needs and Force Structure Analysis:
The Thinking Behind the F-22A and
Evolved F-111 Force Mix Option

Don Middleton ADA Defender
Q1 2007
Are the F-111s Really Stuffed? [PDF]
Peter Goon
ADA Defender Q2 2005
Affordability and the new air combat capability [PDF]
Peter Goon Air Power Australia
Jan 2005
A FAREWELL TO ARMS - REVISITED [PDF]
Carlo Kopp
Australian Aviation
Dec 2004
Cruise Missile Options for Australia (AIR 5418) [PDF]
Carlo Kopp
Australian Aviation Mar 2004
How Defence Miscalculated F-111 Costs [PDF]
Carlo Kopp
Australian Aviation Jan 2004
Taking the 'Force' out of Air Force? [PDF]
Carlo Kopp
ADA Defender Q2 2004
Stretching the F-111 Past 2010 [PDF]
Carlo Kopp
Defence News Dec 2003
Towards a 'boutique Air Force' - downsizing the RAAF [PDF]
Carlo Kopp The Australian
Nov 2003
Warbird deserves reprieve [PDF]
Carlo Kopp
Defence News Sep 2003
Cost of killing off the F-111 [PDF]
Carlo Kopp
Defence Today
Aug 2003
How Expensive is the F-111? [PDF]
Carlo Kopp
Defence Today May 2003
Three Decades of the F-111 [PDF]
Carlo Kopp
Defence Today Nov 2002
F-111 Update Parts 1, 2
Carlo Kopp Australian Aviation Sep 2002
Managing Ageing Aircraft [PDF]
Carlo Kopp
HeadsUp Newsletter
Issue 273
F-111 High Cost Fallacies
Carlo Kopp
HeadsUp Newsletter Issue 274 Storm Clouds Over the Force Horizon
Carlo Kopp
HeadsUp Newsletter Issue 275 Why Army Needs Pig Support
Carlo Kopp
HeadsUp Newsletter Issue 276 F-111: Our Soundest Aircraft
Carlo Kopp
HeadsUp Newsletter Issue 277 Keeping the RAAF on its Toes
Carlo Kopp
HeadsUp Newsletter Issue 286 How F-111 Cuts Will Cripple Australian Power
Carlo Kopp
HeadsUp Newsletter Issue 287 F-111 Skills Vital For Nation
Carlo Kopp
HeadsUp Newsletter Issue 288 RAAF Loses its Capability Edge
Carlo Kopp
HeadsUp Newsletter Issue 290 Defence's Cruise Missile Wet Dream
Carlo Kopp
HeadsUp Newsletter Issue 291 Over the Hill - and far away?
Carlo Kopp
HeadsUp Newsletter Issue 292 Persistence wins friends, influence
Carlo Kopp
HeadsUp Newsletter Issue 293 Global Hawk: great but no panacea
Carlo Kopp
HeadsUp Newsletter Issue 294 F-111: Throw weight vs precision
Carlo Kopp
HeadsUp Newsletter Issue 296 When bureaucracy is blinkered
Carlo Kopp
HeadsUp Newsletter Issue 297 F-111, JSF and aircrew recruitment
Carlo Kopp
HeadsUp Newsletter Issue 299 NCW, buzzwords and reality
Carlo Kopp
HeadsUp Newsletter Issue 300 DCP: Hear no evil, see no evil
Carlo Kopp
HeadsUp Newsletter Issue 301 Air 5402 - another missed chance
Carlo Kopp
HeadsUp Newsletter Issue 303 Faster than a speeding bullet . . .
Carlo Kopp
HeadsUp Newsletter Issue 304 Stealth: Now you see it . . ?
Carlo Kopp
HeadsUp Newsletter Issue 305 How they got it wrong
Carlo Kopp
HeadsUp Newsletter Issue 306 A case of convoluted reasoning
Carlo Kopp
HeadsUp Newsletter Issue 307 How RAAF misses the ideas bus
Carlo Kopp
HeadsUp Newsletter Issue 308 Getting the air power facts straight
Carlo Kopp
HeadsUp Newsletter Issue 309 Mountains out of molehills
Carlo Kopp
HeadsUp Newsletter Issue 310 Beware of the pollie in the sun
Carlo Kopp
HeadsUp Newsletter Issue 311 Now we're getting technical
Carlo Kopp
HeadsUp Newsletter Issue 312 F-111 costs are over-estimated
Carlo Kopp
HeadsUp Newsletter Issue 313 Justifying the unjustifiable
Carlo Kopp
HeadsUp Newsletter Issue 314 Ignore history - repeat mistakes
Carlo Kopp
HeadsUp Newsletter Issue 316 Defence - deep reforms are needed
Carlo Kopp
HeadsUp Newsletter Issue 318 HEADSUP SPECIAL - Is the JSF really good enough? analysing the ASPI paper
Carlo Kopp
HeadsUp Newsletter Issue 321 Defence: a conservative dilemma
Carlo Kopp
HeadsUp Newsletter Issue 322 HEADSUP SPECIAL - F/A-22As, JSFs and 21st Century air combat









F-111 and Related Topics





Carlo Kopp
Australian Aviation Jul-Oct 2001
Pigs Forever? [F-111 Supercruise]
Carlo Kopp
Australian Aviation Oct 2001
Amberley Weapon System Business Unit
Carlo Kopp
Defence Today May 2003
RAAF F-111G Wild Weasel Concept
Carlo Kopp
Australian Aviation Jul 1999
EF-111A Ravens for the RAAF?
Carlo Kopp
Australian Defence Intelligencer
Jul 1999
Response to Fred Haddock's Critique of "Ravens for the RAAF ?"
Carlo Kopp
Australian Aviation Oct 1998 - Jan 1999
F-111 Upgrade Options I-IV
Carlo Kopp
Air Power International
4.2 1998
Driving the Pig [Simulator]
Carlo Kopp
Australian Aviation Dec 1996
AGM-142E Raptor - The RAAF's New Standoff Weapon
Carlo Kopp
Australian Aviation Jul 1996
Upgrading the RAAF's F-111Gs
Carlo Kopp
Australian Aviation Jul 1996
Sea Control - Submarines or Air Power?
Carlo Kopp
Australian Aviation Dec 1995
New Defensive Avionics for the F-111
Carlo Kopp
Australian Aviation Nov 1995
Tomahawks, Submarines and the F-111
Carlo Kopp
Australian Aviation Jun 1995
The RAAF F-111G 'G-Model Pig'
Carlo Kopp
Australian Aviation Jun-Sep 1995
New Tusks for the Pig [AUP]
Carlo Kopp
Australian Aviation June 1984
Pave Tack and GBU-15
Carlo Kopp
Australian Aviation June 1984
Strike - RAAF Style
Carlo Kopp Australian Aviation June 1984 General Dynamics F-111 Profile
Carlo Kopp F-111.net 1996
Experimental F-111 Camouflage Gallery


The Parliamentary Debate [Click for more ...]
Related Links [Click for more ...]



In 1968, the USAF deployed 6 F-111A aircraft (Det 1, 428th Tactical Fighter Squadron) to Takhli AFB, Thailand, to conduct an operational evaluation against targets in North VietNam.  Originally code-named Harvest Reaper, this deployment was subsequently renamed to Combat Lancer.  The F-111A was under a bit of a cloud as the static test model had fractured earlier than expected and the Australian Government was getting very nervous over the impending acquisition of the F-111C.  What is not widely known, or even understood in Australia to this day, is that the air war over North Vietnam was conducted primarily from bases in NE Thailand and not from South Vietnam. USN carrier-borne aircraft also participated as did B-52 forces from Guam and U-Tapao,  the latter also in Thailand.  The RAAF requested participation and was granted observer status.  Some half dozen RAAF officers completed 42 day detachments to Takhli, usually in pairs, arriving in and leaving South Vietnam via our routine C-130 service. At Takhli,  we were treated extremely well by the 428th and given access to all data.  Over the period, the squadron had lost two aircraft,  recovered both crews,  and modifications had been made to the suspect wing carry through box.  Rigorous training missions were flown and the aircraft resumed operations (Image and caption text © 2011 Roy Collinson).



(c) 2006, Carlo Kopp

F-111C A8-129 in legacy and current camouflage.





AGM-142E Popeye Stand Off Weapon on F-111C (Image © 2007 C. Kopp).



AN/ASW-55 Datalink pod on F-111C (Image © 2007 C. Kopp).



Parametric comparison - F-111 vs alternatives - Click for more ...
F-111 Cost Effectiveness - Click for more ...

F-111F / AVQ-26 / GBU-10
The F-111F was the most capable US Air Force variant, this example armed with four GBU-10 laser guided bombs and with its AVQ-26 Pave Tack electro-optical targeting pod deployed. The F-111 played a pivotal role in the destruction of Saddam's forces in 1991, as well as distinguishing itself during the Linebacker II campaign and El Dorado Canyon strikes. Around 70 F-111Fs, a large fraction with new Pacer Strike avionics, are mothballed now at AMARC  (U.S. Air Force photo).

F-111F / GBU-15
The F-111F  was equipped to carry the GBU-15 electro-optically guided glide bomb, and later the powered AGM-130 stand-off weapon - RAAF aircraft were armed instead with the Israeli Rafael AGM-142 SOW (Jim Rotramel via F-111.net).

FB-111A / SRAM
US Strategic Air Command FB-111A aircraft carried nuclear armed AGM-69 SRAM defence suppression missiles in the internal weapon bay, which all F-111s were built with. Australia's F-111 has played an important role as a test platform for clearing a wide range of new internally carried munitions being developed for the F-22A and later JSF (U.S. Air Force photo).

EF-111A Raven
The U.S. Air Force prematurely mothballed its Electronic Attack force of 40 Grumman/GD EF-111A Ravens in 1999, after an acrimonious public debate. The lost capability is now being reconstituted using even older B-52H airframes, equipped with external jamming pods, unlike the compact internal variant of the ALQ-99 carried by the Ravens. The traditional defence penetration related  roles performed by electronic attack aircraft are increasingly broadening to encompass communications and network jamming (U.S.Air Force photo)

The F-111 is an unusually versatile high performance aircraft, and has been used as a strike fighter, support jammer and also a testbed vehicle for carrying a long range SAR/GMTI radar in high threat environments. With over 200 mothballed airframes available in AMARC, the aircraft has the potential with upgrades to remain in service well past 2020, and fulfill a much wider range of roles than currently used for.





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