A F-35A Lightning II aircraft A35-016 operated by No. 3 Squadron practices an aerial handling display over RAAF Base Williamtown. Photo: CPL Craig Barrett
A F-35A Lightning II aircraft A35-016 operated by No. 3 Squadron practices an aerial handling display over RAAF Base Williamtown. Photo: CPL Craig Barrett

UP IN THE SKY: It’s not a bird, it’s a very fast plane

There might be a few low flying streaks in the sky over the next few months as the Evans Head Air Weapons Range will be in use with one of the country's most sophisticated aircraft.

The air force currently operates F/A-18F Super Hornets from RAAF Base Amberley and last year began operating F-35A Lightning II aircraft from RAAF Base Williamtown over the range.

Commander of Air Combat Group, Air Commodore Tim Alsop said the range was tested and deemed suitable as a gunnery and bombing practice area for the F-35A Lightning II.

"Fast jet military aircraft will conduct gunnery and bombing operations and also conduct low level flying during each mission within the range airspace,'' AIRCDRE Alsop said.

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In the past, it has been common to see aircraft flying low over nearby areas, including Brooms Head

The scheduled program for February to June includes:

 

 

February 8-12: F-35A Lightning II

March 15-19: F/A 18F Super Hornet

May 17-21 May: F-35A Lightning II

The 82 Wing Training Flight will operate F/A-18F Super Hornets over the range for dry strafe and application for a few of the days of the scheduled operations. The range overwater areas will not need to be closed.

AIRCDRE Alsop said aircraft would not use the range every day for training activities and they could involve up to two waves/day application pattern and live strafe and involve lasers.

"Local residents are advised access to the range (land areas) remains restricted regardless of any activities being conducted. This is due to the historical use of the range and the possibility of unexploded ordnance remaining at the site," he said.

A map showing the areas closed to the public while air force conducts exercises at the Evans Head bombing range.
A map showing the areas closed to the public while air force conducts exercises at the Evans Head bombing range.

For safety reasons, the Southern DPA (overwater) will be closed from 10am to 5pm during those weeks of F-35A operations.

"Residents are advised operations on the range can change due to weather or other operational considerations so people are advised to heed the closure of the range overwater areas from 10am to 5pm," he said.

"Air force appreciates the ongoing input and long standing support the local community provides in terms of our operations,'' AIRCDRE Alsop said.

Defence personnel display red flags whenever live firing activities are conducted and carry out patrols to ensure people don't stray into the area.


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