report by: Clyde Lannan
In 1988 Australia hosted an international air show to celebrate the Australian Bicentenary. That airshow was the occasion to discover international presence with the F-15 Eagle, Tornado F3, Harrier, the Royal New Zealand Air Force “Kiwi Red” aerobatic team and even featured a flypast of the famous B-52 Stratofortress bomber. The show took place in Richmond air base. In 1991, Royal Australian Air Force’s 70th anniversary was celebrated with a new airshow held in Richmond air base in New South Wales. In 1992, the air show location was moved to Avalon Airpot, near Geelong, in the south-west of Melbourne.
The 2017 edition took part between February 28th and ended on March 5th.Were featured two new aircraft: the RAAF F-35A Lightning II and the EA-18G Growler. It also featured the C-27J Spartan transport aircraft, the P-8A Poseidon scheduled to replace the AP-3C Orions, and the PC-21 advanced trainer aircraft. The USAF sent at Avalon 2017 its B-1B Lancer supersonic bomber, two F-16 fighters, and for the second time, the F-22 Raptor. Friday, Saturday and Sunday were the public days while the other days were a mix of media and trade show days. The highlight of the air show was the ‘Battlespace Hour’ conducted by the joint elements within the Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Army.
It began with the scenario that enemy forces have taken over the Avalon Airport. A Hawk 127 simulated the bad guy and a pair of F/A-18A Hornets displayed the multi role capability by shooting down the intruder and then laying suppressing fire to enable the combat helicopters to land friendly forces safely. The MRH90 combat helicopter flown by the Royal Australian Navy was escorted by an ARH Tiger armed helicopter further laying suppressing fire. After offloading some troops they went airborne again.
There were reports of an enemy submarine in the adjacent bay and the P-8A Poseidon, the AP-3C Orion and the MH-60R Seahawk helicopter were active in the hunt for the submarine until it was destroyed. The battle was coordinated by the MQ-4C Triton and an E-7A Wedgetail flying overhead.The KC-30A was the force multiplier mid-air refueler extending the time on station of the F/A-18A Hornets. The C-130J Hercules landed more reinforcements for the initial troops. The C-17A Globemaster III landed troops with the Bushmaster IFV (Infantry Fighting Vehicle) that reinforced the troops providing armor support.
The Roulettes is an aerobatic demonstration team of the RAAF based at RAAF Base East Sale. The Roulettes fly the PC-9/A aircraft which serve as the primary training aircraft for the Air Force. The Roulettes are a six-man team that flies the display which are an extension of formation, aerobatics, low level flying and cross over maneuvers. The Roulettes fly as low as 250 feet at speeds up to 250 knots and as close as 10 feet demonstrating the expertise in visual judgement and the coordination and rapid reaction needed from processing the scene through the eyes and translating the minute inputs needed to either maintain formation or safety by the motor hand skills. Throughout the display, the pilots experience up to 6g – six times the force of gravity. Many thanks to Clyde for this very good first report on this site!