RAAF Base Williamtown

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RAAF Base Williamtown
RAAF FA-18 taking off from RAAF Base Williamtown Feb 2011.JPG
An F/A-18A Hornet taking off from RAAF Base Williamtown
Fighter World entrance cropped.jpg
The entrance to Fighter World museum
IATA: NTLICAO: YWLM
Summary
Airport type Military
Owner Royal Australian Air Force
Location Williamtown, New South Wales, Australia
Built 15 February 1941
In use 1941-present
Elevation AMSL 31 ft / 9 m
Coordinates 32°47′42″S 151°50′04″E / 32.79500°S 151.83444°E / -32.79500; 151.83444Coordinates: 32°47′42″S 151°50′04″E / 32.79500°S 151.83444°E / -32.79500; 151.83444
Website RAAF Base Williamtown
Map
YWLM is located in New South Wales
YWLM
YWLM
Location in New South Wales
Runways
Direction Length Surface
m ft
12/30 2,438 7,999 Asphalt
Sources: Australian AIP and aerodrome chart[1]

RAAF Base Williamtown (IATA: NTLICAO: YWLM) is a Royal Australian Air Force base and headquarters to Australia's Tactical Fighter group. The base is located 8 nautical miles (15 km; 9.2 mi) north[1] of the coastal city of Newcastle, New South Wales (27 km (17 mi) by road) in the local government area (LGA) of Port Stephens. The military base shares its runway facilities with Newcastle Airport. The nearest major town is Raymond Terrace, located 8 km (5 mi) west of the base. Medowie, 6.8 km (4.2 mi) north of the base, is home to many of the base's staff.

History[edit]

RAAF Station Williamtown was established on 15 February 1941 to provide protection for the strategic port and steel manufacturing facilities of the Hunter Region.[2] The base was initially served by four runways, each 1,100 m (3,600 ft) in length to meet the needs of the Williamtown Flying School. The School consisted of 62 buildings which accommodates 366 officers and men.

A number of Australian Empire Air Training Scheme squadrons were formed at Williamtown before proceeding overseas and No. 4 Operational Training Unit was located at Williamtown from October 1942 until the unit was disbanded in April 1944. Following World War II Williamtown was retained as the RAAF's main fighter base and was equipped with squadrons of Gloster Meteor and F-86 Sabre fighters.[3]

In 1961 the squadron of Meteors were replaced with the Dassault Mirage aircraft.[3] On-base facilities were gradually expanded post war and through until the late 1960s.

In 1983 the role of Williamtown was upgraded to a tactical fighter base in preparation of the replacement of the Mirages with 75 F/A-18 Hornets in 1989. The following year Williamtown became headquarters for the Tactical Fighter group and acquired new headquarter buildings, hangars, workshops, stores, medical facilities and a base chapel.[3]

Current-day[edit]

Currently Williamtown employs approximately 3,500 personnel, including military, civilians and contractors, and injects $150 million per annum by way of salaries into the Hunter Region economy.[2] Williamtown is currently home to F/A-18 Hornet fighters (operated by No. 2 Operational Conversion Unit, No. 3 Squadron and No. 77 Squadron), BAE Hawk 127 Lead-In Fighters (operated by No. 76 Squadron), Wedgetail airborne early warning and control aircraft (operated by No. 2 Squadron) and Pilatus PC-9 training aircraft (operated by No. 4 Squadron). It is also home to a number of headquarters and other units such as the Australian Defence Force Warfare Centre and Surveillance and Response Group.

RAAF Base Williamtown has most of the facilities you would expect to find in a small town, including sporting fields, recreation facilities, cinema and even a fortnightly newspaper[4] highlighting activities around the Base and outside community.

In addition to its military units, RAAF Williamtown is the home to Fighter World,[5] a museum dedicated to Australian fighter aircraft.

Units[edit]

Unit Full Name Force Element Group Aircraft
1ATS DET WLM No. 1 Air Terminal Squadron Detachment Williamtown Combat Support Group N/A
2SQN No. 2 Squadron Surveillance and Response Group B737 AEW&C
2ATHS No. 2 Air Transportable Health Squadron Combat Support Group N/A
2OCU No. 2 Operational Conversion Unit Air Combat Group F/A-18
3SQN No. 3 Squadron Air Combat Group F/A-18
4SQN No. 4 Squadron PC-9
3CRU No. 3 Control and Reporting Unit Surveillance and Response Group N/A
26SQN No. 26 Squadron Combat Support Group N/A
44WG DET WLM No. 44 Wing Detachment Williamtown Surveillance and Response Group N/A
76SQN No. 76 Squadron Air Combat Group BAe-Hawk 127
77SQN No. 77 Squadron Air Combat Group F/A-18
278SQN No. 278 Squadron Air Combat Group N/A
381ECSS No. 381 Expeditionary Combat Support Squadron Combat Support Group N/A
CSU-WLM Combat Support Unit - Williamtown Combat Support Group N/A
HQ41WG Headquarters No. 41 Wing Surveillance and Response Group N/A
HQ42WG Headquarters No. 42 Wing Surveillance and Response Group N/A
HQ44WG Headquarters No. 44 Wing Surveillance and Response Group N/A
HQ78WG Headquarters No. 78 Wing Air Combat Group N/A
HQ81WG Headquarters No. 81 Wing Air Combat Group N/A
HQACG Headquarters Air Combat Group Air Combat Group N/A
HQSRG Headquarters Surveillance and Response Group Surveillance and Response Group N/A
SACTU Surveillance and Control Training Unit Surveillance and Response Group N/A
335SQN AAFC[6] No. 335 Squadron Australian Air Force Cadets Australian Air Force Cadets N/A

Defence Materiel Organisation Units

  • AEWCSPO - Airborne Early Warning Control System Program Office
  • GTESPO - Ground Telecommunications Electronic System Program Office
  • TFSPO - Tactical Fighter System Program Office

See also[edit]

References[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  1. ^ a b YWLM – Williamtown (PDF). AIP En Route Supplement from Airservices Australia, effective 6 March 2014, Aeronautical Chart page 1
  2. ^ a b "Government administration and defence" (PDF). Newcastle and the Hunter Region 2008–2009. Hunter Valley Research Foundation. pp. 6–7. Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 3 August 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c "RAAF Base Williamtown & Salt Ash Air Weapons Range Williamtown, NSW Heritage Management Plan" (PDF). Department of Defence. 11 September 2009. pp. 32–33. Retrieved 20 April 2010. [dead link]
  4. ^ Fighter Force News
  5. ^ Fighter World
  6. ^ "3 Wing: 335 Squadron". Australian Defence Force Cadets. Retrieved 2008-01-03.