RAAF Base Williamtown

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RAAF Base Williamtown
Williamtown, New South Wales in Australia
RAAF FA-18 taking off from RAAF Base Williamtown Feb 2011.JPG
F/A-18 Hornet taking off from RAAF Base Williamtown
RAAF Base Williamtown YWLM is located in New South Wales
RAAF Base Williamtown YWLM
RAAF Base Williamtown
YWLM
Location of RAAF Williamtown in New South Wales
Coordinates32°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
TypeMilitary air base
Site information
OwnerDepartment of Defence
Operator Royal Australian Air Force
WebsiteRAAF Base Williamtown
Site history
In use15 February 1941 (1941-02-15) – present
Garrison information
Garrison
Occupants
Airfield information
IdentifiersIATA: NTL, ICAO: YWLM
Elevation9 metres (31 ft) AMSL
Runways
Direction Length and surface
12/30 2,778 metres (9,114 ft) Asphalt
Sources: Australian AIP and aerodrome chart[1]

RAAF Base Williamtown (IATA: NTL, ICAO: YWLM) is a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) military air base located 8 nautical miles (15 km; 9.2 mi) north[1] of the coastal city of Newcastle (27 km (17 mi) by road) in the local government area of Port Stephens, in New South Wales, Australia. The base serves as the headquarters to both the Air Combat Group and the Surveillance and Response Group of the RAAF. The military base shares its runway facilities with Newcastle Airport. The nearest towns are Raymond Terrace, located 8 km (5 mi) west of the base and Medowie, 6.8 km (4.2 mi), north of the base, which is home to many of the base's staff.

A number of the buildings on the base are listed on the Commonwealth Heritage List.[2]

History[edit]

The entrance to Fighter World museum.

RAAF Station Williamtown was established on 15 February 1941 to provide protection for the strategic port and steel manufacturing facilities of the Hunter Region.[3] 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 CAC Sabre fighters.[4]

In 1961 the squadron of Meteors were replaced with the Dassault Mirage aircraft.[4] 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.[4]

Current base activity[edit]

As of August 2017[5] RAAF Williamtown employed approximately 3,500 personnel, including military, civilians and contractors, and generated A$150 million per annum by way of salaries in the Hunter Region economy.[3]

Williamtown is 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), E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control aircraft (operated by No. 2 Squadron) and Pilatus PC-9 forward air control aircraft (operated by No. 4 Squadron). It is also home to the Australian Defence Force Warfare Centre[6] and Surveillance and Response Group RAAF.

RAAF Base Williamtown has most of the facilities one would expect to find in a small town, including sporting fields, recreation facilities, cinema and a fortnightly newspaper[7] highlighting activities around the Base and outside community.[citation needed] RAAF Williamtown is the home to Fighter World, a museum dedicated to Australian fighter aircraft.[8]

In 2014 the Australian Government announced that Williamtown will be the home base for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters; the first of which arrived in December 2018,[9] and enter service with the RAAF in 2020.[10][11]

The use of firefighting chemicals over a sustained period has resulted in contamination of the groundwater in the area surrounding the base, with residents initiating a class action lawsuit and expressing ongoing concern in national media over the impact on their properties.[12][13][14][15] Nationally, there are 90 sites impacted by PFAS contamination, with more internationally.[16][17]

Units[edit]

The following units are located at RAAF Base Williamtown:[5]

Unit Full name Force Element Group Aircraft Notes
1ATS DET WLM No. 1 Air Terminal Squadron Detachment Williamtown Combat Support Group N/A [citation needed]
1CCS DET WLM No. 1 Combat Communications Squadron Detachment Williamtown Combat Support Group N/A [5]
1SECFOR No. 1 Security Forces Squadron Combat Support Group N/A
2SQN No. 2 Squadron Surveillance and Response Group E-7A
2EHS No. 2 Expeditionary 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 Air Combat Group PC-9
3CRU No. 3 Control and Reporting Unit Surveillance and Response Group N/A [18]
26SQN No. 26 (City of Newcastle) Squadron Combat Support Group N/A Airbase operations[5]
HQ453SQN Headquarters No. 453 Squadron Surveillance and Response Group N/A
453SQN WLM FLT No. 453 Squadron Williamtown Flight 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 [citation needed]
381ECSS No. 381 Expeditionary Combat Support Squadron Combat Support Group N/A Contingency operations[5]
CSU-WLM Combat Support Unit – Williamtown Combat Support Group N/A [citation needed]
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 [5]
HQ81WG Headquarters No. 81 Wing Air Combat Group N/A
HQACG Headquarters Air Combat Group Air Combat Group N/A
HQSRG Surveillance and Response Group Surveillance and Response Group N/A
SACTU Surveillance and Control Training Unit Surveillance and Response Group N/A [citation needed]
335SQN AAFC No. 335 Squadron Australian Air Force Cadets Australian Air Force Cadets N/A [19]
AEWCSPO Airborne Early Warning Control System Program Office Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group N/A [5]
GTESPO Ground Telecommunications Equipment Systems Program Office Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group N/A [citation needed]
TFSPO Tactical Fighter System Program Office Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group N/A

See also[edit]

References[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.

  1. ^ a b YWLM – Williamtown (PDF). AIP En Route Supplement from Airservices Australia, effective 08 November 2018, Aeronautical Chart Archived 10 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine. p. 1
  2. ^ "Williamtown RAAF Base Group (Place ID 105639)". Australian Heritage Database. Department of the Environment. Retrieved 21 September 2018.
  3. ^ 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 (PDF) on 18 October 2009. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g "RAAF Base Williamtown". Royal Australian Air Force. Australian Government. Archived from the original on 2 August 2014. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  6. ^ "ADFWC Welcome". Australian Defence Force Warfare Centre. Retrieved 6 September 2015.
  7. ^ "RADAR Magazine home page". radarnews.com.au. Archived from the original on 25 January 2014.
  8. ^ "About Fighter World". Fighterworld.com.au. Retrieved 6 September 2015.
  9. ^ Jennings, Gareth (9 December 2018). "First F-35As arrive in Australia". Jane's Information Group. The first two aircraft (AU-1 and AU-2) arrived at Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Williamtown in New South Wales on 10 December, the Department of Defence (DoD) announced.
  10. ^ Egan, Geoff (24 April 2014). "Williamtown the winner over Amberley for F-35s". Queensland Times. Australia. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  11. ^ Smart, Philip (7 May 2015). "Williamtown starts on F-35 facilities". Australian Defence Magazine. Australia. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  12. ^ Bevan, Matt (20 May 2016). "Williamtown water contamination becomes key issue in tight electorate race" (Streaming audio). ABC Radio National. Australia. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  13. ^ Bevan, Matthew (14 June 2016). "Williamtown and Oakey residents to receive Fed Govt support" (Streaming audio). ABC Radio National. Australia. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  14. ^ "WARNING: Ground water contamination at RAAF Base Williamtown". Maitland Mercury. Australia. 4 September 2015. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  15. ^ "Residents file toxic water class action over RAAF base". SBS TV. Australia. AAP. 3 November 2016. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  16. ^ Fellner, Carrie; Begley, Patrick (17 June 2018). "Toxic Secrets: Where the sites with PFAS contamination are near you". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 25 June 2018.
  17. ^ "Agencies investigating potential water contamination". Radio New Zealand News. 7 December 2017. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  18. ^ "Surveillance and Response Group". Royal Australian Air Force. Australian Government. Retrieved 25 June 2018.
  19. ^ "3 Wing AAFC – NSW & ACT – Australian Air Force Cadets". Australian Air Force Cadets.

External links[edit]