173rd Aviation Squadron (Australia)

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173rd Aviation Squadron
6th Aviation Regiment Kiowa.jpg
A 173rd Aviation Squadron Kiowa lifts off for a training manoeuvre during Exercise Talisman Sabre 2011.
Active 1974–present
Country Australia
Branch Army
Type Aviation
Size One squadron
Part of 6th Aviation Regiment
Garrison/HQ Holsworthy Barracks

The 173rd Aviation Squadron is an Australian Army aviation unit which forms part of the 6th Aviation Regiment. It is currently based at Holsworthy Barracks and is equipped with Bell Kiowa helicopters.


The squadron was formed on 17 February 1974 at Oakey and initially operated Pilatus PC-6 Porters. In 1978, the squadron also received 11 GAF Nomads.[1] During this time, the squadron undertook a variety of Army co-operation roles utilising the short take-off and landing characteristics of its aircraft. These included: artillery spotting, troop transport, field resupply, medevac, ground-air liaison. It was also used for survey work in the South Pacific and flood relief in Australia.[2]

The squadron gave up its Porters in late 1992 and in the following year, the squadron adopted the title of "173 (Surveillance) Squadron"; under this guise it undertook the aerial surveillance and survey roles and was also used as a vehicle to deliver parachute troops. In 1993 it acquired 12 more Nomads, mainly stored civilian spec models, to replace the Porters. In 1994, following a number of fatal accidents among the Australian Nomad fleet, the aircraft were withdrawn from service in 1995. Most of the Nomads were sold to the Indonesian Navy but two were retained as unflyable training aids.[citation needed]

As a consequence, the squadron operated two Embraer EMB 110 Bandeirante airframes, which were leased by the Army temporarily while a replacement for the Nomad was sought.[3] These were later replaced with 3 Beechcraft King Air and 3 DHC-6-200 Twin-Otter aircraft (one of which, VH-HPY, was later lost in a training accident in Papua New Guinea). The King Airs were subsequently handed over to the Royal Australian Air Force in late 2009 when the squadron was converted to a rotary-wing aviation squadron, designated as "173rd Aviation Squadron" and operated the Bell Kiowa out of Holsworthy Barracks in New South Wales.[4] 173 Squadron now operates with the S-70A-9 Black Hawk, with all army Kiowas moving to the Army Aviation Centre at Oakey at the end of 2013.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Eather 1995, p. 150.
  2. ^ Eather 1995, pp. 150–151.
  3. ^ Eather 1995, p. 151.
  4. ^ Hamilton, Eamon (10 December 2009). "Fixed Wings Freed" (PDF). Army (Canberra, Australia: Department of Defence). p. 6. Retrieved 19 March 2012. 


  • Eather, Steve (1995). Flying Squadrons of the Australian Defence Force. Weston Creek, Australian Capital Territory: Aerospace Publications. ISBN 1-875671-15-3. 

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