Author Topic: Scran's Alternative Australasian Air Forces  (Read 2006 times)

Offline ScranJ51

  • Fast Jet, Fast Prop, Fast Racing Cars - thats me!!
Scran's Alternative Australasian Air Forces
« on: February 24, 2018, 10:53:38 AM »
(This concept was inspired by the Greater Australia story line, and I asked GTX Admin would he mind if I did a project where I build models to match the storyline.  You can see the models in Physical Models – Aerospace.  Those posts generated some discussion, which is answered here I hope.  Note that the options/opinions here are mine and mine alone.  Also, there may be weapons loads etc that are not capable of being used - the Eagles carrying a mix of ASRAAM and AIM-9 for example - for the purpose of this exercise the technical issues and interfaces have been resolved.)


In the 70’s, the RAAF ran an evaluation of aircraft to be considered as a Mirage replacement.  I was a controller at Williamtown in 1976-79, and during that time we had a visit from an F-15 prototype as (then) McDonnell Douglas pushed the F-15 as an option.  While history tells us the RAAF eventually selected the F/A-18A Hornet, what if the RAAF (and indeed the rest of the ADF) considered other options for a much larger (and more capable) ADF air fleet?

Units/Types (read as type, unit, role, establishment)

Air Combat Group

82 Wing  
F-15E Strike Eagle   1 SQN   Strike   16
F-15E Strike Eagle   6 SQN   Strike   16
F-111E   2 SQN   Recce   8
EF-111   2 SQN   EW   6
RQ-1 Predator   5 SQN   Surveillance/Recce   10
5OTU   Strike Eagle Conversion   10 F-15E

81 Wing  
F-15C   75 SQN   Fighter   16
F-15C   77 SQN   Fighter   16
F-16CJ   3 SQN   Multi-role/SEAD   16
F-16C   76 SQN   Multi-role   16
F-16C   79 SQN   Multi-role   16

78 Wing  
A-37B   4 SQN   FAC – expanded 4 Flight   14
F-16D/F-15D   2OCU   Fighter Conversion   10 x F15D, 16 x F-16D
Hawk 100   25 SQN   Lead-In Fighter Training   40
F-16A   ROULETTES   Air Display team   7 (6 x A and 1 x B)

Air Lift Group

86 Wing

32 SQN - AAR - 12 x KC-135 – to be replaced by 10 KC-46 Pegasus from 2020
33 SQN – AAR - 12 x KC-767
36 SQN - Strategic Transport – 10 x C17
37 SQN – Transport 20 x C130J

84 Wing
34 SQN – VIP Transport -  2 x B737 BBJ’s, 6 x Canadair Challenger
35 SQN – Tactical Transport – 15 x C27 Spartan
38 SQN – Light Transport/Liaison – 8 x B200 Super King Air

Maritime Surveillance Group

92 Wing

10 SQN – 10 x P-3C – to be replaced by 7 x MQ-4C Triton from 2020
11 SQN – 10 x P-3C being replaced by 15 x P-8 Poseidon

Surveillance and Electronic Warfare Group

7 x E-7 Wedgetail AEW
5 x Gulfstream G550 – ISREW

Pilot Training   
Hawk   2 FTS   Training   90



F-14 Tomcat   VF-805   Fighter, Recce   24
A-7E   VA-850   Strike   20
A-6E   VA-851   Strike   16
EA-6B Prowler   VAQ-852   Electronic Warfare   6
E-2 Hawkeye   VAW-808   Air Surveillance   6
S-3A Viking   VS-809   ASW, Anti-Ship   6
S-70B, MH-60R Sea Hawk   HS-723   ASW, utility   6/6

AW-2      Ashore/LHD’s
Sea Harrier FRS-1   VF- 816   Fighter   12
AV-8B Harrier   VF-817   Strike, CAIRS   12
NH-90    HS-722   Utility Transport   12

Training Wing   
VC-724 SQN (Fighter)   6 x F-14, 4 x Sea Harrier, 6 x AV-8B
VC-725 SQN (Strike)   4 x A-7, 3 x A-6, 2 x EA-6B

1 AVN Regiment
OV-1 Mohawk   172 SQN   Surveillance   8
OV-10D Bronco   173 SQN   FAC, Recce   20

5 AVN Regiment 
S-70A Black Hawk   A SQN   SF Transport/Support   30
NH-90   B SQN   Transport   50
CH-47F CHINOOK   C SQN   Transport   20

6 AVN Regiment   
AH-1S   161 SQN   ARH   24
AH-64D   162 SQN   Firepower   20

ADF Helicopter School 
Army Helicopter Training   Contractor supplied Aircraft

1 Wing
F-20 Tigershark   26 SQN   Multi-role   16
F-5E   16 SQN   Light Fighter   20
RF-5E   15 SQN   Recce   10

2 Wing 
F-18   2 SQN   Fighter   16
F-18   75 SQN   Fighter   16

3 Wing (Fast Jet Training)
Operational Conversion (1SQN)   4 x F-18A, 4 x F-18B, 4 x F-20B, 2 x F-5E, 2 x F-5F

4 Wing
3 SQN – AAR/Strat Transport – 5 x KC-767, 2 x B757
40 SQN – Transport – 8 x C130J
42 SQN – Transport – 6 x C27 Spartan
5 SQN – P-3K to be replaced by 5 x P-8 Poseidon

5 Wing
6 SQN - Lift -10 x NH-90 (replacing UH-1H)
Recce – 6 x AH-1S Cobra
Firepower – 6 x AH-64


With the significant number of jet aircraft entering the ADF inventory, instead of the proposed PC-9 to replace the Macchi, the decision was taken to acquire the Bae Hawk, to provide an all-through jet pilot training course (previously trialled by the ADF on the Macchi).  2FTS also provided pilot training to the RNZAF by way of the RNZAF “purchasing” sufficient hours for their needs from the ADF and supplying instructors to the combined effort.

Given the nature of aircraft selected, RAN Pilots continued to complete the RAAF 2 Flying Training School (2FTS) syllabus along with their RAAF colleagues, while Army Pilots completed the initial flying training assessment at Tamworth before commencing rotary-wing training at the ADF Helicopter School (utilising contractor provided aircraft) while those selected for the OV-10 and OV-1AU complete conversion training with the relevant Squadron. 

On completion of 2FTS, graduates for Multi-engined aircraft (C-130, C-17, P-3, Wedgetail etc.) are posted to their squadron for conversion training, while those selected for fast jet (including Navy pilots) remained in Pearce for Lead-In Fighter Training (LIFT) with 25 SQN on Hawk 100 aircraft. Navy pilots selected for rotary wing are posted to the ADF Helicopter School for rotary wing training then direct to their selected unit for conversion training. The advantage of this co-location of flying training and LIFT places all Hawk maintenance at one location. 

On completion of LIFT, RAAF fast jet pilots selected for fighters are then posted to 2 Operation Conversion Unit (2OCU) for training on the F-16 or F-15 depending on their selection/ADF requirements.  Attack pilots and Air Combat Officers for the Strike Eagle Squadrons are posted to 5 Operational Conversion Unit (5OCU – remembering 5 Operational Training Unit that trained Beaufighter, Boston and Mosquito crews in WW2 and Mustang and Sabre pilots later) for conversion onto the Strike Eagle.  RNZAF fast jet pilots are posted to the NZ Operational Conversion Squadron (No 1 Shadow Squadron) for training on their type.

Royal Australian Air Force


Given 5 OTU is tasked with Strike Eagle conversion training, both 1 and 6 Squadrons are operational in deep strike and interdiction in both the land and maritime environment.  The reconnaissance role initially envisaged for 6 Squadron was indeed undertaken by F-111 aircraft, but by a re-roled 2 Squadron (who rather than take on the AWACS role – picked up their earlier tasking from Canberra days) who, in addition to reconnaissance with modified ex-USAF F-111E aircraft, also took on the Electronic Warfare (EW) role for the RAAF utilising several ex-USAF EF-111 aircraft.  Aircrew for the F-111 fleets have normally completed a tour on the Strike Eagle, and conversion to their F-111 type is managed by 5OTU “borrowing” F-111 airframes as required. Lastly, 5 Squadron was raised to operate the Remotely piloted RQ-1 Predators, which only have a surveillance/reconnaissance role, and do NOT carry Hellfire missiles.


The RAAF decided to create a HI-LO mix of fighter units, with two HI units (75 and 77 SQNs) operating the F-15 in pure fighter roles, while the LO units (3, 76 and 79 SQNs) operate the F-16 in multi-role tasking, with the Squadrons operating in both fighter and strike/ground attack roles as required. The F-15 squadrons concentrate on air-to-air tactics, while 3 Squadron picks up the specialised role of SEAD thanks to their F-16CJ aircraft.

Training for the fighter squadrons is conducted by 2 Operational Conversion unit, which trains both F-15 and F-16 pilots.

To support the F-16 Squadrons in their close air support role, a dedicated squadron (4 SQN) was raised, equipped with A-37B aircraft.  The squadron took on predominately the Forward Air Control (FAC) role, while the squadron is also capable of providing close air support to ground units.  Given the role of 4 Squadron, pilots selected for this squadron have previously completed a tour on F-16 (or in some cases Strike Eagle) prior to their posting to this unit.

The Roulettes: For a long period, the RAAF display team had utilised aircraft from the training system to provide an aerobatic display team.  With the increased capability of the ADF, a higher profile was considered appropriate, so a specific display team was developed, based within 78 Wing and utilising F-16 aircraft.  Pilots for the display team have completed a tour on F-16, F-15 or F-15E prior to selection for a 2-year posting to the display team.


The significant increase in fast jets meant that the ADF needed to bolster the air refueling capability to provide the jets strategic reach.  While 33 SQN used the B707 aircraft purchased in the late 70's to develop ADF AAR and strategic lift doctrine, the more immediate need for AAR Capability was filled by 32 SQN operating 12 ex-USAF KC-135 aircraft.  These are due to be replaced by KC-46 Pegasus aircraft from 2020.  In 2000, 33 SQN commenced re-equipping with 12 KC-767 tankers which doubled the RAAF's AAR offload capability, while 6 additional aircraft were part of the order for 3 SQN RNZAF to give the Kiwi's and AAR capability to support their Hornets.

The KC-46 Pegasus differs from the KC-767s in that it is based on the 767-200, but uses a modified boom from the USAF KC-10 and will have B787 cockpit displays.

There were also few changes to the RAAF Airlift Group as a result of the finding from the ADF Lift Study conducted in 2000.  37 SQN had already begun to retire their C-130E and replace them with C-130J.  The initial order of 12 C-130J had options for an additional 27 aircraft.  Only 16 options were taken up, and additional 8 for 37 SQN with 8 going to the RNZAF for 40 SQN.

The RAAF looked closely at the A-400M as well as C-17's.  Openings from the C-17 production line with aircraft not being taken up by the USAF allowed the RAAF to purchase a batch of 10 for 36 SQN to provide real strategic reach.

Replacement of the aging Caribou fleet was more difficult.  Despite several suggestions, the only aircraft that could match the STOL capability of the RAAF's Caribous was the Caribou!  However, age and support issues (the Caribou was the only AVGAS user in the ADF) saw these aircraft retired, with 15 C-27 Spartans being selected as an additional lift capability to supplement the C-130 fleet while providing commonality.  Again, the RNZAF was part of the deal with 6 additional aircraft in the order going to 42 SQN RNZAF.

« Last Edit: February 24, 2018, 11:44:43 AM by ScranJ51 »
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Offline ScranJ51

  • Fast Jet, Fast Prop, Fast Racing Cars - thats me!!
Re: Scran's Alternative Australasian Air Forces
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2018, 11:39:07 AM »
Maritime Surveillance Group

The RAAF has a long history of operating P-3 Orion's.  As these aircraft aged, option for replacement have been considered.  10 SQN began to disband in 2015, with the intent of standing-up again in 2020 equipped with 7 MQ-4C Triton platforms.  In 2016, 11 SQN began retiring it's P-3C's as the first of 15 planned P-8 Poseidon aircraft came on line.  When the replacements are complete, the ADF will have a sophisticated system for monitoring the maritime approaches.  Jindalee OTHR will be used as the first tripwire, while the Triton's will conduct long endurance flights across the west and top end to localise any items of interest detected.  if required, the Poseidon's will them prosecute the target.

The ADF has also announced that the Triton's will make regular patrols of the South-West Pacific, with the RNZAF P-3K's being the likely response to prosecute targets of interest. The RNZAF also plans to take-up options for 5 P-8 Poseidon's to replace the RNZAF P-3K's

Surveillance and Electronic Warfare Group

This group will operate the Wedgetail AEW aircraft for the ADF, as well as 5 Gulfstream G550 aircraft on order that will be fitted out for ISREW (Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Electronic Warfare) tasking.

Royal Australian Navy

After the retirement of the A-4 from RAN service, the Navy had long argued that proper coverage of the Fleet could not be provide by the RAAF.  Despite the quantum leap in capability provided by the expanded Fighter Force, the RAAF agreed that the expanded RAN should have their own fixed wing component.

Surprisingly, the USN, cognizant of their reduced coverage/capability within the Pacific also vocally joined the discussion, and offered the USS NIMITZ to Australia at a nominal figure (plus providing on-going maintenance support at almost no cost) as an incentive.

The sale of the USS NIMITZ to Australia allowed the RAN to plan for an integral air component to operate from this ship.  Unlike the US Carrier Air Wings, the RAN decided to operate only 4 fast-jet squadrons from the HMAS AUSTRALIA (as NIMITZ was renamed), albeit each squadron being significantly larger than a US counterpart.

The fighter element of the RAN’s air wing is VF-805 operating 24 ex-USN F-14A Tomcat aircraft.  VF-805 consists of two flights of 10 aircraft, with a third flight operating 4 TARP capable aircraft to provide a reconnaissance capability.

The attack element of the air wing is provided by two squadrons, VA-850 with 20 A-7E Corsair II aircraft, and VA-851 operating 16 A-6E aircraft, all ex-USN stock.  Both squadrons provided 1 or 2 aircraft as tankers depending on the requirement.

Additional capabilities for the RAN’s primary wing are provided by VA-852, operating 6 EA-6B Prowler aircraft (again ex-USN stock) in the electronic warfare role, VAW-808 operating 6 ex-USN E-2C Hawkeye aircraft for air surveillance, and VS-809 conduction outer ASW operations with 6 Ex-USN S-3B Viking aircraft.

Completing the air wing is HS-723, operating a mix of S-70B Sea Hawk ASW aircraft and utility MH-90R aircraft.

While HMAS AUSTRALIA operates the main fixed wing aircraft, the Navy was given some additional firepower by the acquisition of 12 Sea Harrier FA1 (VF-816) and 12 Harrier GR-7 (VFA-817) aircraft, capable of operating off HMAS AUSTRALIA or the 2 LHD platforms HMAS CANBERRA or HMAS ADELAIDE for short periods.  Utility airlift from the LHD’s can be Army rotary wing assets, or 12 “Navalised” NH-90 utility transports.

The Australian Army

With the transfer of rotary wing support to the land battle from RAAF to Army completed in the 80’s, the acquisition of Black Hawk and Chinook provided the Army with a reasonable lift capability provided by 5th Aviation Regiment (5AVN).  This was further enhanced in the late 90’s/early 00’s by the acquisition of the NH-90 (named TAIPAN in Australian service) to give the Army a good mix of lift capability as well as providing specialist support (via Black Hawk) to Army Special Forces. 

The replacement of Kiowa and Iroquois with a dedicated Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH) caused much interest.  While the ADF leant towards the Eurocopter Tiger as a preferred solution, the US again seemed to plan to utilize a revitalised ADF as a quasi-replacement for US capability in the region, and offered a mix of AH-1S Cobra (primarily for Armed Recon) and AH-64 Apache (firepower support) as an option at a “bargain” price. Selection of the AH-1S provided a commonality with the increased USMC presence in the Northern Territory (and access to US supported maintenance) while the AH-64 gave the Army a desired capability that was assumed to be previously out of reach cost wise.  The US made a point of cycling several units through the Northern Territory during the Australian acquisition process to allow a very rapid progression to Full Operational Capability (FOC) for the Australian Army units being equipped with these two aircraft.  These types are operated by 6th Aviation Regiment (6AVN).

The USMC also sold 20 OV-10D Bronco’s from their stocks to the Australian Army.  While the Army conceded that the major supplier of Close Air Support and FAC remained the RAAF, these aircraft allowed an additional FAC Capability capable of operating from some forward strips, as well as a faster Recon/Observation platform than the Cobra.  The Bronco’s also provided a limited capability for insertion of small groups of SAS via parachute.  Although this capability is practiced, it is rarely used in an operational sense.

Completing the new equipment operated by the Army are 8 OV-1 surveillance aircraft.  These were ex-US Army aircraft returned to Grumman and the airframes Zero- houred, then fitted with state-of-the art sensors.  The aircraft are so different from anything operated by the US that they are referred to as OV-1AU, meaning AUSTRALIAN configuration.


As mentioned earlier, RNZAF pilot training is conducted at 2FTS in Australia, the RNZAF supplying instructors to a common pool and “purchasing” sufficient Hawk hours for their training needs.

About the same time the Australians were making a decision about the RAAF fighter force, the RNZAF was in the process of standing down their fast jet capability with the retirement of the Skyhawks.  There was a plan to acquire surplus F16’s (originally bound for Pakistan) but these became no longer available when the Australian “deal” went through.

Somewhat disappointed at losing the Australian sale, Northrop decided to approach the Kiwi’s (most likely at the prompting of the US Government) to try and broker a deal.  The upshot, thanks to a change in NZ Government and a somewhat more “hawkish” outlook for Defence, was the RNZAF signing an agreement with Northrop for a HI-LO mix (somewhat like the Aussies).  The RNZAF HI capability is provided by 40 F/A-18A Hornets (16 each for 75 SQN and 2 SQN) while the LO option is 42 aircraft, this time seeing the RNZAF join the production line for F-20 Tigershark’s alongside the South African Air Force and receiving 16 single-seat and 2 dual seat aircraft as well as managing to pick up at a bargain price, 24 refurbished F-5E aircraft.

An additional capability not previously held is a tactical recce capability provided by 10 RF-5E Tiger Eye recce aircraft. Seven of the RF-5’s and 16 of the F-5E’s are considered operational at any one time.

Training for the operational squadrons is conducted by one unit, Number 1 (shadow) Squadron, which holds 4 x F18A, 4 x F18B, 2 x F20B, 2 x F5E an 2 x F-5F. 14 Squadron draws on experienced F-5 pilots from 16 Squadron moving on to the RF-5 aircraft via an internal conversion course.

Other RNZAF capabilities.

While most of the additional or upgraded capabilities have been discussed above, there are one or two other points of interest.  As well as operating the KC-767 tankers, 3 SQN RNZAF will continue to operate the 2 B757 aircraft on strategic lift missions.

While 6 SQN RNZAF has commenced operations with the NH-90 aircraft purchased to replace the UH-1H aircraft, the option of again being part of a larger order in company with the ADF saw the RNZAF order 6 each of AH-1S Cobra and AH-64 Apache to provide capabilities never before available to the RNZAF.  Note that the Kiwi Apache's are not Longbows, and are not equipped with the mast mounted sensor.
« Last Edit: February 24, 2018, 11:45:31 AM by ScranJ51 »
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Offline Old Wombat

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Re: Scran's Alternative Australasian Air Forces
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2018, 02:09:19 PM »
A-7E   VA-850   Strike   20
A-6E   VA-851   Strike   16
EA-6B Prowler   VAQ-852   Electronic Warfare   6
E-2 Hawkeye   VAW-808   Air Surveillance   6
S-3A Viking   VS-809   ASW, Anti-Ship   6

I'm seeing me staying on in Pussers a lot longer than I did! 8)
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Offline Klown

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Re: Scran's Alternative Australasian Air Forces
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2020, 10:55:56 AM »
 I would say that Harriers would play a part in the RAN and A-10's in the Army or at least as CAP in the RAAF.

Offline ScranJ51

  • Fast Jet, Fast Prop, Fast Racing Cars - thats me!!
Re: Scran's Alternative Australasian Air Forces
« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2020, 09:12:09 PM »

did you not see:

AV-8B Harrier   VF-817   Strike, CAIRS   12

Army Air has some firepower:

AH-1S   161 SQN   ARH   24
AH-64D   162 SQN   Firepower   20

RAAF have some CAIRS:

A-37B   4 SQN   FAC – expanded 4 Flight   14

Fast Jet, Fast Prop, Fast Racing Cars - thats me!!

Offline Klown

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Re: Scran's Alternative Australasian Air Forces
« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2020, 07:48:01 AM »
Was reading at work and yes I did miss it. Sounds good, I have a long time planned Harrier build for RAN. Australia being part of the Falklands War would make a great backdrop too.

Offline ScranJ51

  • Fast Jet, Fast Prop, Fast Racing Cars - thats me!!
Re: Scran's Alternative Australasian Air Forces
« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2020, 10:22:52 AM »
Note the RAN also has Sea Harriers.

I did models for all the fast jets and helos etc if you search the aerospace thread on built models.

Here are the Harriers:

SHAR-02 by David Freeman, on Flickr

SHAR-01 by David Freeman, on Flickr

AV-8B-02 by David Freeman, on Flickr

AV-8B-01 by David Freeman, on Flickr

And the A-37B

A-37B-2 by David Freeman, on Flickr

A-37B-1 by David Freeman, on Flickr
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Offline finsrin

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Re: Scran's Alternative Australasian Air Forces
« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2020, 01:48:02 PM »
Particularly like A-37B  :smiley:

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Re: Scran's Alternative Australasian Air Forces
« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2020, 02:45:06 AM »
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

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But you can make the Bastard work for it.