2017 Event Review

Australian International Airshow and Expo, Feb 28 - March 5, 2017
Location: Avalon Airport, Geelong, Australia
Admission: AU$65 Adult (15 years and over) AU$30.00 Child (5-14 years) Family Ticket (2A + 4C) AU$130.00 per day.
Parking: AU$10
Value: Good
Rating out of 10: 8
 
B-1B from Dyess AFB, Red Flag 16-1

F/A-18 Hornet of the Royal Australian Air Force

Australian International Airshow 2017 – Air Power in Action…

The thirteenth biennial Australian International Airshow took place between 28 February 2017 and 5 March 2017 at Avalon Airport, Victoria, Australia. Following the three day industry only Australian International Aerospace and Defence Exposition, the three day airshow was a public event with a record breaking crowd, by far the largest in the events' 25-year history. The event's theme 'Air Power in Action' attracted a total crowd of 176,742 on the public days and 33,922 on the industry only trade days.
For aviation photographers the Australian International Airshow is the major event in Australia at which to photograph the aircraft and helicopters of the Australian Defence Force in action. This proved to be mainly assets of the Royal Australian Air Force, as unfortunately the level of participation by the Royal Australian Army and Royal Australian Navy was rather poor.
The setup of the airshow was comparable to the previous editions. The active runway at Avalon Airport is very close to the crowd line, making it ideal for take off, landing and taxiing shots – at least in the mornings, as in the afternoon it is backlit. The display line however is far away. The weather was also comparable to previous editions: a mix of sunny and very hot weather (unfortunately causing heat haze), overcast, low clouds, fog and strong winds made photography rather challenging. Flying displays were shortened, postponed or even canceled.

Air Power in Action – the highlights…

- Australian Defence Force showcase
Reconnaissance, suppression, attack and rescue - a ninety minute demonstration of mixed capabilities and skills by a joint task force of Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Australian Army and Royal Australian Navy involving a variety of aircraft and helicopters like the F/A-18A/B, HawkMk.127, C-17A, C-130J-30, P-8A, AP-3C, E-7A, KC-30A, Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter, MRH-90 Multi Role Helicopter and MH-60R.

- Royal Australian Air Force F-35A Lightning II static display

The 16,000 kilometer trip from Luke Air Force Base, Arizona to Australia via Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii and Andersen Air Force Base, Guam for Wing Commander Andrew Jackson and Squadron Leader David Bell took about 20 hours of flying. They flew alongside a Royal Australian Air Force KC-30A Multi Role Tanker Transport which provided air-to-air refueling about every 45 minutes. Squadron Leader Bell is attached to the 61st Fighter Squadron at Luke Air Force Base where he is an instructor at the multinational Pilot Training Centre, teaching pilots to fly the F-35A. When the first F-35A's begin to arrive in Australia permanently in 2018 they will be assigned to 3 Squadron at RAAF Base Williamtown. Their initial task will be to ensure the logistics supply chain has been established to operate the F-35A on a daily basis and to integrate the F-35A into the Australian Defence Force. By December 2020 it is expected that the F-35A will have its initial operational capability with enough aircraft and instructors to train Australian pilots on home soil, as well as the ability to be employed in combat scenarios.

- United States Air Force F-22A Raptor Demonstration Team

As part of the Enhanced Air Operation the United States Air Force deployed 12 F-22A's from 90th Fighter squadron to RAAF Base Tindal to conduct integrated training opportunities with the 75 Squadron F/A-18A/B Classic Hornets along with ground assets and personnel. Enhanced air cooperation is part of the United States Force Posture initiatives and builds on a range of air exercises and training activities already undertaken by the United States and Australia. Three F-22A's from 'The Dicemen' were sent to Avalon Airport to take part in both static display and flying display, flown by the Air Combat Command F-22A Demonstration Pilot Major Dan 'Rock' Dickinson.

- Pacific Air Forces F-16 Viper Demonstration Team

From mid February 2017 until early March 2017 the Pacific Air Forces F-16 Viper Demonstration Team traveled to three countries, participating in airshows across the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. The stops included Aero India at Yelahanka Air Force Station in India, 
the Air Tattoo at Royal New Zealand Air Force Base Ohakea in New Zealand and here at
the Australian International Airshow 2017. Although the demo team, based out of Misawa Air Base in Japan, consists of just one airframe, aircraft from across the Pacific played pivotal roles behind the scenes: an United States Air Force C-17A transported supplies from Misawa Air Base to India and New Zealand and a Royal Australian Air Force C-17A flew the gear on the final leg to Australia. "With the average Misawa based F-16 C/D being 25 years old, the jet is going to break down," according to Major Richard Smeeding, the Pacific Air Forces F-16 Viper demonstration Team pilot. "To be ready, the C-17's carry tools and parts to cover things that are more likely to go. If we have a part fail that we don't have, then we reach back for support."

Besides the aircraft and helicopters in the Australian Defence Force showcase, Australian Defence Force representation in the flying display included 'The Roulettes' display team flying the PC-9/A, a two-ship of AS350BA Squirrel helicopters, a four-ship of KingAir 350's, a four-ship of F/A-18A/B's, a Hawk Mk.127 solo display and a very impressive F/A-18F Super Hornet solo display.

Besides the mentioned F-22A Raptor demonstration Team and F-16 Viper Demonstration Team foreign participation in the flying display was limited to a solo display of a Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130H.

Static Display

Besides the mentioned F-35A Lightning II in the static display other highlights included a Royal Australian Air Force E/A-18G, two ‘factory fresh’ Royal Australian Air Force PC-21’s, two Republic of Singapore F-15SG’s, a Royal Air Force A400M, a Japan Air Self- Defense Force KC-767, a Royal Canadian Air Force CC-130J, a Royal New Zealand Air Force Boeing 757-200, a United States Air Force B-1B and a United States Navy P-8A amongst others. Unfortunately the setup of the static display makes photography nearly impossible…

 

The Aviation Magazine would like to thank would like to thank the Australian Defence Force Media Team, the United States Air Force Media Team, Media Operations Australian International Airshow 2017 (in particular Peta Richards, ) and Nikon Professional Services Australia for their assistance and support prior, during and after the Australian international Airshow 2017.

 

Performers included:

RAAF F-35A Lightning II

RAAF EA-18G Growler

RAAF KC-30A MRTT

RAAF Hawk 127

RAAF E-7A Wedgetail

RAAF F/A-18 A/B Hornet

RAAF F/A-18F Super Hornet

RAAF C-17A Globemaster III

RAAF AP-3C Orion

RAAF P-8A Poseidon

RAAF C-130J Hercules

RAAF PC-9/A

RAAF Roulettes Display Team PC-9/A

RAN AS350B Squirrel

RAN MH-60R Seahawk 'Romeo"

RAN s70B-2 Seahawk

RAN MRH-90 Taipan

RAA ARHh Tiger

RAA MRH-90

USAF F-22 Raptor

USAF F-16C Viper

Sopwith Pup

Sopwith Spine

RE8

 

Static included:

Air Ambulance Victoria KING AIR B200

AH-64E Apache

USAF B-1B Lancer

USAF C-17 Globemaster II

USAFANG KC-135R Strototaker

USN P-8A Poseidon

RNZAF B-757-200

RAF Airbus A400M Atlas

Beechcraft Bonanza

Bell 407GXP

Canberra B20 - A84-232

Cessna 182, Citation Latitude and C208EX Caravan

Daher TBM 930

Dassault Falcon 8X and Falcon 2000LXS

Diamond DA62 and DA40

Dornier 228

Embraer Phenom 300 and Lagacy 450

Gulfstream G280, G550 and G650R

Harrier T.Mk4 XW271

Leonardo AW139 and AW169

Pilatus PC-12NG and many more aircraft

Static display by the Army M1 Abrams Tank, Army ASLAV, G Wagon, Bushmaster, and many more vehicles...

Report by Jeroen Oude Wolbers for The Aviation Magazine with photography as noted

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Images from Red falg 16-1 by The Aviation Magazine
 
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