Royal Australian Air Force to Gift an F-111C Jet To Retire at Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor

This week, Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor will welcome the General Dynamics F-111C jet (serial number A8-130) to its collection of vintage and high performance aircraft. A gift from the Royal Australian Air Force, the jet is one of seven airframes being released to civilian institutions, the only one being gifted outright and the only one being given outside Australia. The others are on loan. Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor Executive Director Kenneth DeHoff has made it one of his projects over the last three years to ensure that the Museum receives this famed aircraft upon its retirement.

The fifth of six Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) General Dynamics F-111 Aardvarks has landed at its new home, this time quite a bit further away from RAAF Amberly than its mates. Arriving last week after a six-day, nearly 2,000 mile overland journey from the east coast, near Brisbane, to the Australian Aviation Heritage Centre (AAHP) in Darwin. The plane which had been restored to a very high static display standard by the RAAF, was disassembled for trucking and will be reassembled by a special team from the air force in it’s new hangar.

The fifth of six Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) General Dynamics F-111 Aardvarks has landed at its new home, this time quite a bit further away from RAAF Amberly than its mates. Arriving last week after a six-day, nearly 2,000 mile overland journey from the east coast, near Brisbane, to the Australian Aviation Heritage Centre (AAHP) in Darwin. The plane which had been restored to a very high static display standard by the RAAF, was disassembled for trucking and will be reassembled by a special team from the air force in it’s new hangar.

Arriving at Hickam Air Field of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in three shipments, the final shipment is planned for Wednesday September 4, arriving at Hickam about 10 p.m. and moving to Pacific Aviation Museum about 1 a.m. Thursday, September 5, across Ford Island Bridge. This final shipment will include the fuselage of the plane. Members of the RAAF will accompany the fuselage on this final shipment of the aircraft to the Museum and will be at the Museum through September 12 to reassemble the aircraft, which is in pristine condition.

According to Mr. DeHoff, “This is an important acquisition for us. We honor aviation history in the Pacific as part of our Museum mission, so to receive this from the Royal Australian Air Force is particularly significant. We’ll give it a final resting place that recognizes RAAF and Australia as the allies and aviation leaders they are in the Pacific region.”

From seeing combat in Vietnam to participating in the bombing raids of Operation Desert Storm, the F-111 has had a long and storied 37-year military career.

This remarkable aircraft was the world’s first fighter with variable sweep wings, which allowed the wing configuration to be changed while in flight. With wings fully extended, the F-111 could take off and land in as little as 2,000 feet; with the wings fully swept back, it could reach supersonic speeds at high or low altitudes. Capable of attacking in all weather conditions, the F-111 was also equipped with terrain-following radar, which allowed it to hug the ground at supersonic speeds.

The F-111C that the Museum will be receiving, serial number A8-130, is being retired from the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), the only country outside of the United States to operate the F-111. “This gift symbolizes the close working relationship we enjoy with our American colleagues – on operations, on exercises and through airmen-to-airmen talks,” said RAAF Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Geoff Brown.

F-111C A8-147 offloaded after its overland arrival at the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome. (Image Credit: EHMAHAA)

F-111C A8-147 offloaded after its overland arrival at the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome.
(Image Credit: EHMAHAA)

This particular aircraft is one of only seven F-111C’s the RAAF released to civilian institutions, and the only one outside of Australia, under the F-111 Disposal Project. It is being transported to Hawaii from RAAF Base Amberley, on three flights from late August through September 4.

The F-111C was Australia’s principal strike aircraft from 1973 through 2010 and was affectionately known there as the Pig due to its ability to hunt at night with the nose of the aircraft close to the ground.

The outright gift of the F-111 to the Museum is a reminder of the F-111’s shared service between Australia and the United States and Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor plans a reception for Australian and American dignitaries and military representatives in October, to properly welcome the aircraft and honor the Royal Australian Air Force for their gift to the Museum.

 

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