Canberra International Airport)
Fairbairn viewed from Mount Ainslie
|Operator||Capital Airport Group Pty Ltd|
|Location||Canberra, Australian Capital Territory|
|Elevation AMSL||1,888 ft / 575 m|
Fairbairn was a base of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) located in Australia's national capital, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory. Over the years the name of the establishment, and the use of the land, has changed. The land occupies an area North and East of the runways at what is currently known as Canberra Airport.
RAAF squadrons were permanently based at the Canberra Aerodrome from 1939. The base was formally established as RAAF Station Canberra on 1 April 1940. In 1941 part of the airport was named Fairbairn Airbase after the late Minister for Air and Civil Aviation James Fairbairn, Member of the Australian House of Representatives, who was killed in an aircraft crash in the proximity of the airfield on 13 August 1940.
A joint Dutch East Indies-Australian medium bomber unit, No. 18 (Netherlands East Indies) Squadron RAAF was formed at Fairbairn on 4 April 1942, paving the way for other such units. 18 (NEI) Sqn was drawn initially from two groups of ethnic Dutch and Indonesian personnel, who had been evacuted from Japanese occupied Indonesia to either RAAF Archerfield, Queensland or Melbourne. Under the command of Lieutenant Colonel B. J. Fiedeldij of the Military Aviation of the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army (KNIL-ML), the staff of 18 (NEI) Sqn was complemented by a number of RAAF personnel, including both aviators and ground staff. After it had become fully operational with North American B-25 Mitchells, 18 (NEI) RAAF was deployed to, and carried out missions throughout the South West Pacific theatre.
The base became Headquarters RAAF Canberra in 1952. In December 1960 the base was selected as the locality for the RAAF Staff College, and in 1962, the area was renamed RAAF Base Fairbairn.
Defence Establishment Fairbairn
The Defence Reform Program (DRP) determined the base was no longer required and on 28 May 1998 the lease on the base was sold to Canberra International Airport Pty Ltd. Part of the base was sub-leased back to the Australian Department of Defence on a five-year lease to allow the progressive wind up of operations. The base was decommissioned on 27 June 2003 and the domestic area became known as Defence Establishment Fairbairn, with Canberra International Airport and the Capital Airport Group having full control of the airfield and the site.
The only remaining military unit is No. 34 Squadron RAAF, which is responsible for the operations of the RAAF's VIP transport aircraft that are used to transport Australian officials such as the Prime Minister, cabinet ministers, the Governor General, the leader of the opposition and high ranking defence force officers when travelling both internationally or within Australia.
In 2006, Canberra International Airport Pty Ltd, and the airport management company Capital Airport Group Pty Ltd, jointly released a prospectus and embarked on a building program in the area now called "Fairbairn". These new buildings have been leased and are occupied by the Department of Defence and other tenants.
References and notes
- Canberra International Airport Pty Ltd
- i.e. Canberra International Airport Pty Ltd, the owner of the lease.
- i.e. Capital Airport Group Pty Ltd, the airport management company.
- Fairbairn: The Place To Grow Your Business, 2006, Canberra International Airport Pty Ltd and Capital Airport Group Pty Ltd
- i.e. the "NE Precinct" of the airport site - the area previously known as "Defence Establishment Fairbairn".
- including HQJOC(T) Plans Branch in F1, DSTO in F2 and the JDSSC in F4
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