Aircraft Research and Development Unit RAAF

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Aircraft Research and Development Unit
Active 1943 – Present
Country Australia Australia
Branch  Royal Australian Air Force
Role Test and evaluation
Part of Air Warfare Centre Development and Test Wing
Garrison/HQ RAAF Base Edinburgh and Detachment at RAAF Base Amberley
Motto(s) Prove to Accomplish
Aircraft Pilatus PC-9 and F/A-18 Hornet
Wing Commander D. Rich
Notable commanders J.A. Rowland (1959)
M.A. Skidmore (2000–02)
D.J. Fawcett (2003–04)
Callsigns TESTER and DELTA (for formations)
An F/A-18A Hornet assigned to ARDU
ARDU was the last RAAF unit to use the Douglas C-47
An ARDU Pilatus PC-9

The Royal Australian Air Force's Aircraft Research and Development Unit (ARDU) plans, conducts and analyses the results of ground and flight tests of existing and new Air Force aircraft. ARDU consists of four flights located at RAAF Bases Edinburgh, Amberley, Richmond and Williamtown, staffed by qualified test pilots, flight test engineers and flight test system specialists. Up until 2016 the Squadron also conducted flight test for the Australian Army with Army personnel also working within the unit. The flight test crew are long course trained at test pilot schools including the United States Air Force Test Pilot School, the United States Naval Test Pilot School, the Empire Test Pilots' School, the École du personnel navigant d'essais et de réception and the National Test Pilot School.

The client base for ARDU encompasses the Air Mobility Group, Air Combat Group, Surveillance and Response Group, Air Force Training Group, and Defence Science and Technology Organisation.

ARDU is now located at RAAF Base Edinburgh in Adelaide, South Australia, and RAAF Base Amberley near Brisbane, Queensland.


Originally the formation of the Special Duties and Performance Flight was established in December 1941 at Laverton, Victoria. The unit was reformed as No 1 Air Performance Unit in December 1943, the Unit was responsible for carrying out flight trials of new aircraft as well as aircraft modifications. During World War 2, flying trials included Spitfire, Beaufighter and Boomerang performance tests, as well as evaluations on various aircraft modifications including gun, radar and bombsight installations. In addition, the Unit carried out performance tests on captured Japanese 'Oscar' and 'Tony' fighters. Following the War the Unit was involved in tests on the CA-15 prototype, a Meteor Mk3, Lincoln bomber and De-Havilland Sea Hornet.

The unit was renamed Aircraft Research and Development Unit in September 1947, with detachments operating in Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales. In October 1948 ARDU moved back to Laverton with Detachment A at Mallalla, South Australia and Detachment B at Richmond, New South Wales and Detachment C at Edinburgh, South Australia.

By February 1977, all ARDU detachments had relocated to Edinburgh, South Australia, from where it continues its vital role of testing and evaluating both aircraft and weaponry in the RAAF inventory. In 2003, ARDU was re-formed into the Air Warfare Centre (AWC), incorporating several additional operational support roles including those relating to flight testing. On 14 Jan 2013, ARDU established a detachment at Amberley, Queensland.

Commanding officers[edit]

Commanding officer Date of appointment
Squadron Leader J.H. Harper 1 December 1943
Squadron Leader D.R. Cuming 1 May 1944
Flight Lieutenant A.I. Barret 26 January 1945
Wing Commander J.H. Harper AFC 21 March 1946
Wing Commander G.D Marchall AFC 1 December 1947
Wing Commander F.J.P. Wood 30 April 1951
Wing Commander D.R. Cuming OBE, AFC Bar 14 January 1952
Wing Commander J.R. Lavers AFC, AFM (T) 9 May 1953
Wing Commander D.R. Cuming OBE, AFC Bar 21 December 1953
Wing Commander G.H.N. Shiells 9 April 1956
Wing Commander J.A. Rowland DFC, AFC (T) 19 January 1959
Group Captain I.F.D. Rose AFC 20 April 1959
Group Captain P.A. Parker DFC 1 August 1960
A/Group Captain L.H. Williamson 20 December 1963
Wing Commander W.S. McAloney GC, OBE (T) 11 November 1966
Group Captain J.P. Graney AFC 27 February 1967
Group Captain J.D. Espie DFC 10 February 1969
A/Wing Commander R.G. Green AFC (T) 1 March 1971
Group Captain J.W. Newham 4 October 1971
Wing Commander A.G. Cairns (T) 29 November 1971
Group Captain R.N. Law 18 January 1972
Wing Commander J.L. Thomson 30 July 1975
Group Captain D.G. Cameron DFC 12 January 1976
Group Captain R.G. Green AFC 10 December 1979
Group Captain M.E. McDonald 21 March 1983
Group Captain R.V. Richardson AFC 23 December 1985
Group Captain K.J. Bricknell AM 4 January 1988
Group Captain N.J. Ford 22 December 1989
Group Captain M.A. Skidmore 15 December 2000
Group Captain S.J. Fielder AM 13 December 2002
Lieutenant Colonel D.J. Fawcett 26 July 2003
Wing Commander T.J. Saunder 19 January 2004
Wing Commander S.W. Young 4 November 2004
Wing Commander M.R. Walmsely 7 January 2007
Squadron Leader R.J. Denney 26 February 2007
Wing Commander A.P. Jonas 7 May 2007
Wing Commander R.L. Bender 10 January 2011
Wing Commander A.E. Figtree 1 November 2012
Wing Commander D.D.J. Rich 11 January 2016

Fixed wing aircraft operated[edit]

Rotary wing aircraft operated[edit]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]