Introduction - The Royal Australian Air Force
The Royal Australian Air Force, or RAAF, began in 1921, when it continued the work of the Australian Flying Corps, which dated back to 1912. The RAAF has participated in many wars during the 20th and 21st centuries, including World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Iraq war. RAAF jet aircraft are utilized as fighters, trainers, advanced early warning planes, refuelers, and for transport.
FA-18 - The Main Force
The McDonnell Douglas FA 18 Hornet is a RAAF jet aircraft used as a fighter and attack plane. They’re built in Australia under a license from
McDonnell Douglas, and the RAAF currently has 71 in total: 54 FA-18As and 17 FA-18Bs. They’ve been in use by the RAAF since the 1980s. The RAAF also has a stable of 11 FA-18F Super Hornet jets that are to be used starting at the end of 2010 to fill the gap between the retirement of the F-111 and the arrival of the F-35A, scheduled for 2015.
Currently there are 21 General Dynamics F-111 RAAF jet aircraft, with 17 F-111Cs and 4 RF-111Cs. It is made for tactical strikes and for use in reconnaissance missions. They’re scheduled to be retired starting at the end of 2010.
Also among the RAAF jet aircraft collection are 33 BAE Systems Hawks, which are British-made, single engine advanced jet trainers that date to 1974. The RAAF uses them to train fighter pilots.The Pilatus PC-9 a Swiss advanced trainer, numbers 65 in the RAAF jet aircraft stable. They’re made in Australia under license by De Haviland Australia.
The RAAF will have a total of six Boeing 737s that it will use for Airborne Early Warning and Control. Two have been delivered, with the rest to be delivered by the end of 2011.
For refueling, the RAAF has five Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport jets that are currently (as of mid-2010) undergoing final integration checks before officially being put into service. These are based on the Airbus civilian A330-200.
Other RAAF jet aircraft include two Boeing 737-700s that it leases from the U.S. for transporting government leaders and top executives who are traveling on official business. They also have three Bombardier Challenger 600 business jets that are made in Canada and that are used to transport VIPs.
In the Future
For non-VIP transport, the RAAF has four Boeing C-17 Globemaster transport planes. These are used for rapid strategic troop airlift and cargo.
It is also used for medical evacuation and air drops.
Since the Labor Party victory in Australia in 2007, Australia has expressed interest in the US-made F-22 Raptor, which is currently not for sale to foreign countries. Congress would have to change the law to be able to sell them to Australia. The RAAF has also expressed interest in the Boeing EA-18G Growler, the electronic complement to the FA-18.