Home' Air Force News : March 31st 2011 Contents 8
March 31, 2011
Call 1300 112 114
AFTER a long and affectionate associ-
ation with the F-111, WGCDR David
Abraham has the sad duty of supervis-
ing its removal.
As the last CO of the Systems
Program Office (SPO), he was
responsible for sustaining the aircraft
until its retirement. Now it's his job to
dispose of it.
"I had to keep the F-111 going
until December 2010 but my role now
is to project manage the disposal of
the fleet, which for many aircraft will
literally mean the scrapheap," he said.
Part of this project involves clos-
ing down SPO, the contracted support
organisation that has developed and
evolved over the last 37 years.
As one of the RAAF's most iconic
aircraft, the F-111 inspired affection
among many. It was known fondly as
the Pig and was often referred to by
aircrew as the Cadillac of the Skies.
WGCDR Abraham said it was
hard not to become emotionally
ADMIRERS of the Pig will be happy to know that
the RAAF's only F-111 mission simulator will be
saved from the scrapheap.
While the computer technology will be removed,
the simulator will be preserved as a real-time
exhibit for future generations to enjoy.
The head of the F-111 disposal team, WGCDR
David Abraham, said some of the computing
equipment that drove the simulator was common
to other simulators and would be retained for
future use. The remaining technology would be
He said it would still have some "bells and whis-
tles" with functioning instrument lights and a pre-
recorded pilot's view projected on a screen in front
of the cockpit. However, the instruments and visual
display would no longer respond to control inputs.
"Keeping it preserved as a fully functional simu-
lator for exhibit purposes is impractical as it would
have had a significant logistics overhead and there
were capability aspects that remain classified, par-
ticularly in the area of electronic warfare," WGCDR
attached to the Pig after four separate
postings to RAAF Base Amberley to
help sustain it.
"The raw firepower and the sheer
aesthetic beauty of the thing -- it just
had incredible presence as a military
aircraft," he said.
The F-111 Destruction and
Recycling Tender closed on March 21.
There are 36 aircraft to be dis-
posed of: the F-111G fleet,
the combined F-111C strike
and reconnaissance fleet and
one F-111A that was used as a
A number of aircraft have
been identified for preserva-
tion. A G model is already at
Point Cook, and after a heritage
assessment, up to seven C mod-
els may be preserved as well.
"So far, the Defence
Minister has approved the
retention of four C model
aircraft. Two are to be placed at
Amberley, one will go to Point Cook
to complement the G model, and
one will go to Edinburgh to mark the
operation of the F-111 by the Aircraft
Research and Development Unit,"
WGCDR Abraham said.
He said there was no intention to
make a flyable aircraft available to
"It's a means of controlling access
to military combat platforms by peo-
ple hostile to Australia or the US," he
said.The few F-111 items that were
common to other Air Force aircraft
have already been removed. The
remainder of aircraft parts not be pre-
served would be reduced to scrap.
SAD TASK: WGCDR David Abraham is the man in charge of
the F-111's disposal. Right, the F-111 boneyard at RAAF Base
Amberley. Photos: LAC Benjamin Evans and LACW Rosaleen Normoyle
RETIREMENT of the F-111 has
caused a stir of interest among
aviation enthusiasts, with
requests for memorabilia being
The job now is for the F-111
disposal team to work through
them all in conjunction with
the Air Force and the Defence
The head of the F-111
disposal team, WGCDR David
Abraham, said decisions for
disposal of the aircraft needed to
made in accordance with several
"It all comes down to work-
ing within a large number of
US and Australian Government
disposal caveats," he said.
These include the capacity of
the disposal team to prepare an
item to exhibit condition, the fea-
sibility of removing any hazard-
ous substances, and demilitaris-
ing an item without destroying
its aesthetic quality.
Other caveats include the
costs to prepare each item and
the merit of the organisation or
individual seeking the exhibit
esult in a logical
priority order of
could be consid-
ered to preserve
the asset and
present it favour-
ably, and allow
to it," WGCDR
as asbestos, are
impractical to totally remove.
This has been a key consid-
eration in ruling out the option
of selling aircraft for exhibition
The Australian War Memorial
will not be given an F-111
because it only takes items that
have been used in war-time or
"The F-111 disposal project
will take until late 2012 to com-
plete because, apart from the 36
aircraft for disposal, there are
over four million F-111 spares
ranging from washers to wings
to be disposed of, and more than
100,000 files to be archived,"
WGCDR Abraham said.
the F-111, such
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