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ADF trials concealing structures for RAAF fast jets

An F-35A Lightning II aircraft under a temporary aircraft revetment being trialled at RAAF Base Williamtown, New South Wales. Photo: SGT Craig Barrett

The Australian Defence Force has trialled new, open-air temporary structures to protect and conceal military aircraft from explosives and surveillance at RAAF Base Williamtown.

The Australian Defence Force has trialled new, open-air temporary structures to protect and conceal military aircraft from explosives and surveillance at RAAF Base Williamtown.

Air Combat Group led the trial in October this year, in an effort to inform the Royal Australian Air Force of future dispersed aircraft revetment solutions in support of agile operation concepts with the use of alternative passive defence methods and materials.

The quickly constructible, movable, and cost-effective aircraft revetments are open-air structures intended to shield parked aircraft from discovery, blast, and fragmentation damage. The structures, constructed by personnel from 65 Air Base Recovery Squadron, are designed to protect fast jet assets such as the F-35 joint strike fighter and confuse potential aggressors.

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ACG director of Logistics Capabilities Group Captain Jason Dean explained the rationale behind the testing and evaluation.

“The development and validation of a dispersed ACG aircraft revetment that can be repeated at scale across northern air bases – and other locations – is being very much driven by the Defence Strategic Review,” GPCAPT Dean said.

“This first iteration will explore and evaluate solutions for taxiway matting, barrier construction, and camouflage and concealment.

“Subsequent iterations are anticipated to further develop these concepts into an efficient and effective solution for implementation within the wider scope of airbase resilience.”

Each structure involves the installation of concrete walling, shipping containers, airfield matting and alternative methods of camouflage and concealment to enable an assessment of effectiveness.

Flight Lieutenant Paulo Cellini led the team tasked with the construction, which also falls into unit 65ABRS’ approach to the Defence Strategic Review.

“Our team approached this task as an opportunity [to] take the skill sets we have and employ it in a new way in support of Air Force innovation,” FLTLT Cellini said.

“We learnt a lot during the construction of the revetment, and 65ABRS will build upon these lessons to support future taskings.”

Commanding Officer 65ABRS Wing Commander Paul Howell said the agile operations concept will call for greater Air Force activities outside of the traditional fixed bases.

“In this case, 65ABRS aviators worked with ACG to develop concepts to help protect fast jets and allow us to continue to project airpower,” WGCDR Howell said.

Earlier this year, in June, US Marines trained with Australian Defence Force personnel at Royal Australian Air Force Base Williamtown. Across three weeks, “Black Knights” Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314 and RAAF aviators with No. 3 Squadron worked with Marine Corps F-35C Lightning II aircraft on a series of bilateral training events.

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