Aviation Spotters Online

Aviation Spotters Online

All posts by Motty


The very latest technology and hardware in fighter, maritime patrol, surveillance and transport airpower alongside some true classics and a couple of Aussie blokes in their diminutive biplanes wowing the crowds with their displays of formation and solo aerobatic skills.Mottys-ROKAF-Black-Eagles-KAI-T-50-Seoul-ADEX-2017-4-SAT-9+_1516-ASO







The Seoul Aerospace and Defence Exhibition (ADEX) is South Korea’s major international trade and air show, held biennially at Seongnam , a Republic Of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) air base, housing transport and VIP squadrons as well as a US Army Blackhawk unit, just to the south-east of the capital city, Seoul.Mottys-ROKAF-KAI-TA-50-Seoul-ADEX-2017-4-SAT-9+_706-ASO






South Korea has a highly developed aerospace industry in its own right with major companies such as Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) and Korean Air making and assembling components for Boeing and Airbus.  KAI and Korean Air are also active in developing indigenous aircraft and technology such as UAVs, helicopters and fixed wing airframes such as the KT-1 turbo-prop trainer and the T, T/A and F/A-50 family of lead-in fighter and light attack jets, and the ADEX provides an opportunity for both Korean and International companies to display the latest developments and technology to the aerospace industry and public during the seven days of the exhibition.Mottys-CSAR-ROKAF-FA-50-Seoul-ADEX-2017-3-FRI-7011-ASO






Aircraft on static display included examples of the C-130, CN-235, KT-1, KA-1, T-50, F/A-50, F-15K, KF-16, F-5E and F-4E from the ROKAF, a ROK Navy P-3, UH-60, CH-47 and KUH-1 Surion (a locally produced utility helo) from the ROK Army, an A-400 from the Royal Malaysian Air Force (for the trade days only),  a P-8 Poseidon from the US Navy and E-3 AWAC, C-130, C-17, A-10, Global Hawk drone and a pair each of F-22s and F-35s from the USAF.Mottys-USAF-F-35-Lightning-II-Seoul-ADEX-2017-4-SAT-9+_4035-ASO










Amongst all this technology and military hardware, Paul Bennet and Glenn Graham from Australia’s Paul Bennet Airshows team, supported by Matt Webber from Luskintyre Aircraft Restorations, were a highlight as the only civilian performers at the show, with their bright orange Pitts S1-11X and Pitts Model 12 aerobatic biplanes. Paul & the team have performed at many shows in South Korea (and China) for several years and are always very popular with the huge crowds, both for their skillful displays and that a civilian individual can achieve such performances, as the concept of private flying is still very limited in this region.Mottys-Paul-Bennet-Airshows-Seoul-ADEX-2017-2-THUR-1528-ASO






The Aussies displayed alongside the U.S.Air Force’s Air Combat Command F-22 display team and the ROKAF’s Black Eagles aerobatic team in their T-50B lead-in-fighter-trainers, locally manufactured by Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI). There was also a display by the ROKAF’s parachute team and individual handling displays of the KAI KT-1 turboprop trainer and T/TA-50 trainer / light attack jet and a USAF C-17.Mottys-USAF-F-22-Raptor--Seoul-ADEX-2017-4-SAT-9332-ASO











A major attraction on the public days was a Combat Search And Rescue (CSAR) set-piece involving USAF A-10s and ROKAF F/A-50s, HH-60 Blackhawks and a KA-1 Forward Air Control (FAC) version of the KT-1. Saturday also saw flypasts by a pair of USAF B-1B bombers and a U-2 high altitude reconnaissance machine.Mottys-CSAR-USAF-A-10-Seoul-ADEX-2017-3-FRI-7741-ASO










An added bonus from a spotting point of view was that as the ADEX is hosted at the ROKAF’s Seoul base, there was also the chance to catch a variety of other ROKAF types, either locally based or just passing through. Seongnam is the home base for the ROKAF’s VIP fleet which includes Blackhawk, S-92 and Puma helicopters and a pair each of CN-235s and HS-748s as well as a 737 and even a 747. The base is also home to C-130 and CN-235 transport squadrons along with a surveillance unit equipped with reconnaissance versions of the HS-125.Mottys-ROKAF-S-92-Seoul-ADEX-2017-2-THUR-2839-ASO






While political tensions with North Korea meant that there were probably a few less displays than usual for an event like this, the weather was marvelous for most of the week and it was a great opportunity to catch some interesting and exotic types in action as well as getting to see a great Aussie team waving the flag and promoting an aspect of aviation that is still an exotic curiosity to many in this part of the world.Mottys-ROKAF-Black-Eagles-KAI-T-50-Seoul-ADEX-2017-5-SUN-1622-ASO








In fact, there was so much great stuff to see that we plan on bringing you further mini-articles and galleries covering the various parts of the show.Mottys-ROKAF-Black-Eagles-KAI-T-50-Seoul-ADEX-2017-3-FRI-4269-ASO



My sincere thanks to the Paul Bennet Airshows team for allowing me to join them during their week at the show.Mottys-Paul-Bennet-Airshows-Seoul-ADEX-2017-5-SUN-9+_4421-ASO


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3 Squadron Flypast.

Friday 8th of December saw 3 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) make a flypast over the city of Newcastle, Australia, followed by their home base of RAAF Williamtown, just north of Newcastle, in the shape of a giant number 3.

10 classic Hornets took part, along with a single Hawk 127 from 76 Sqn as a camera-ship.Mottys-RAAF FA-18 Hornet 3Sqn-0052-ASO

Mottys-RAAF FA-18 Hornet 3Sqn-0110-ASO

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Mottys-RAAF FA-18 Hornet 3Sqn-0525-ASO

Mottys-RAAF FA-18 Hornet 3Sqn-0576-ASO

Mottys-RAAF FA-18 Hornet 3Sqn-0642-ASO

Mottys-RAAF Hawk 127 76Sqn-0696-ASO

They then formed up into the “3” formation and flew over Newcastle and North to Williamtown.Mottys-RAAF FA-18 Hornet 3Sqn-1068-ASO

Mottys-RAAF FA-18 Hornet 3Sqn-1088-ASO

Mottys-RAAF FA-18 Hornet 3Sqn-1108-ASO

After the fly-over, they broke into smaller groups and returned to base, performing low level initial’and-pitch entries into the circuit.Mottys-RAAF FA-18 Hornet 3Sqn-0747-ASO

Mottys-RAAF FA-18 Hornet 3Sqn-0825-ASO

Mottys-RAAF FA-18 Hornet 3Sqn-0854-ASO

Mottys-RAAF FA-18 Hornet 3Sqn-0915-ASOMottys-RAAF FA-18 Hornet 3Sqn-0927-ASO

Mottys-RAAF FA-18 Hornet 3Sqn-0939-ASO

Mottys-RAAF FA-18 Hornet 3Sqn-0974-ASO

Mottys-RAAF FA-18 Hornet 3Sqn-0987-ASO

Please click HERE to see the full gallery of images.


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Newcastle V8 Flying Displays 2017

The noise! The Power! The agility! The simply incredible performance of such an awesome machine. No, I’m not talking about the powerful racing machines that are the V8 Supercars, but rather, the Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18 Hornet tearing through the skies above.Mottys-Newcstle Coats Hire V8 Supercars RAAF Hornet Display-2122-ASO

Mottys-Newcstle Coats Hire V8 Supercars RAAF Hornet Display-1460-ASO

Mottys-Newcstle Coats Hire V8 Supercars RAAF Hornet Display-0921-ASO

Newcastle recently saw its first ever event as part of the V8 Supercars series with the final race of the season being held at the beautiful harbourside circuit. While for many the attraction of these events is the spectacle and power of the cars and the various races and associated entertainment over the course of the weekend, for some of us, it’s a rare opportunity to catch some of the RAAF’s airpower in action.Mottys-Newcstle Coats Hire V8 Supercars RAAF Hornet Display-1313-DTLR-1-1-001-ASO

Mottys-Newcstle Coats Hire V8 Supercars RAAF Hornet Display-1948-ASO

Mottys-Newcstle Coats Hire V8 Supercars RAAF Hornet Display-1181-ASO

Not only does the new Newcastle circuit boast a beautiful location, between the harbour and the sea, but it also has the advantage (to us) of having Australia’s main fighter base, RAAF Base Williamtown, just a couple of minutes (if not seconds) flying time, up the coast to the north.Mottys-Newcstle Coats Hire V8 Supercars RAAF Hornet Display-1516-DTLR-1-1-001-ASO

Mottys-Newcstle Coats Hire V8 Supercars RAAF Hornet Display-1224-ASO

Mottys-Newcstle Coats Hire V8 Supercars RAAF Hornet Display-1021-ASO

Newcastle was blessed with some fantastic weather for the weekend and I was able to catch the display performed just before the very final race of the season, on Sunday afternoon in some great light.Mottys-Newcstle Coats Hire V8 Supercars RAAF Hornet Display-1168-ASO

Mottys-Newcstle Coats Hire V8 Supercars RAAF Hornet Display-2067-ASO

Mottys-Newcstle Coats Hire V8 Supercars RAAF Hornet Display-1067-ASO

The Hornet display was followed up with a flypast of an E-7 Wedgetail from 2 Squadron during the national anthem and a couple of passes by a 737 from one of the V8’s major sponsors, Virgin Australia, before the start of the final race of the weekend, and season. It’s definitely an unusual sight to catch an airliner maneuvering quite low above a beautiful backdrop like Newcastle.Mottys-Newcstle Coats Hire V8 Supercars RAAF Wedgetail AWAC Display-2236-ASO

Mottys-Newcstle Coats Hire V8 Supercars Virgin Australia 737 Display2370-ASO

Mottys-Newcstle Coats Hire V8 Supercars Virgin Australia 737 Display-0076-ASO

The race itself turned out to be a tense and dramatic conclusion to the racing season and a great finish to Newcastle’s first weekend as part of the V8s events. Here’s hoping we can look forward to this great setting becoming a permanent fixture of the V8 season in years to come, with the added bonus of a great chance to catch some impressive flying as well. How long before we see an F-35……?Mottys-Newcstle Coats Hire V8 Supercars RAAF Hornet Display-0940-ASO

Mottys-Newcstle Coats Hire V8 Supercars RAAF Hornet Display-2126-ASO

Mottys-Newcstle Coats Hire V8 Supercars RAAF Hornet Display-1988-ASO


Please click HERE to see the full gallery of images.

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Rathmines Catalina Festival 2017

Clear skies and beautifully deep-blue waters on the shores of Lake Macquarie with an airshow thrown in as well. What better way to spend a day out for a good cause than at the 11th annual Rathmines Catalina Festival ?Mottys-Rathmines-2017-Paul-Bennet-Airshows-Yak-52-VH-MHH-4859-ASO



The festival is held to promote the history of the former RAAF flying boat base on Lake Maquarie, just south of Newcastle, Australia, as well as provide a great day out with rides, food stalls, displays and entertainment for the whole family. This year’s event was held on the 29th of October.Mottys-Rathmines-2017-Paul-Bennet-Airshows-Rebel-300-VH-TBN-3157-ASO



The funds raised from these events go to the Rathmines Catalina Memorial Park Association which uses the money for various projects, including the restoration of a PBY Catalina for static display and the aim of constructing a hangar to house and protect it as well as a museum to commemorate the history of the base and the personnel and aircraft which served there.Mottys-Rathmines-2017-Paul-Bennet-Airshows-Avenger-VH-MML-6178-ASO



This year, the day’s flying activities began with a display from the Royal Australian Air Force’s aerobatic team, the Roulettes in their PC-9s.Mottys-Rathmines-2017-RAAF-Roulettes-0422-ASO




Following the roulettes was Glenn Collins in Paul Bennet Airshows’  historic CAC Wirraway, a treat for the ears as well as the eyes.Mottys-Rathmines-2017-Paul-Bennet-Airshows-Wirraway-VH-WWY-0972-ASO




Ben Lappin then put PBA’s Rebel 300 through a very energetic and dynamic routine.Mottys-Rathmines-2017-Paul-Bennet-Airshows-Rebel-300-VH-TBN-3479-ASO




Although on the program, JetRide Australia’s L-39 was unable to make the show so Wayne Mitchell  was the next display, demonstrating the handling of his Auto-Gyro.Mottys-Rathmines-2017-3676-ASO


Glenn Collins returned to perform a very crisp routine in Aerohunter Warbird Adventure Flights’ bright yellow Yak-52.Mottys-Rathmines-2017-Paul-Bennet-Airshows-Yak-52-VH-MHH-4638-ASO




The Tecnam formation team from the Royal Newcastle Aeroclub at Rutherford made several passes  before it was time for what many would consider to be the star of the show, the famous “Black Cat”, the PBY Catalina from the Historic Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) at Albion Park, just south of Wolongong. Although the cat was seen at a distance, heading north-west up the lake, it disappeared over the horizon and did not return. Unfortunately, due to an issue with one of the engines, the crew had elected to make a precautionary landing at Maitland.Mottys-Rathmines-2017-5416-ASO



Last on the day’s flying program was the impressive Grumman Avenger, also from Paul Bennet Airshows’ fleet. As its display time came and went, it looked as though it too may not make it to the show. As it turned out, the Catalina’s unexpected arrival at Maitland had caused the Avenger’s departure to be delayed slightly. But, not wanting to disappoint the crowds, Tim Dugan still made sure to put on a great display in the surprisingly large machine.Mottys-Rathmines-2017-Paul-Bennet-Airshows-Avenger-VH-MML-6278-ASO




The display line was modified this year too. In previous years, the flying displays were flown roughly east-west, to the north of the sea-plane ramp at of the former base, but this year, the line was north-south, to the east of the base. This new line made for better viewing of the displays for a greater part of the crowds and, for us spotters, meant the light was great for photography and just got better as the afternoon went on.Mottys-Rathmines-2017-RAAF-Roulettes-0013-ASO





Although the no-show of the star attraction was a disappointment for some; I think the spectacle of watching the rest of the displays in such a glorious setting over the beautiful waters of Lake Macquarie, more than made up for it, and I look forward to catching next year’s show with the new display line too.Mottys-Rathmines-2017-RAAF-Roulettes-6716-ASO






Congratulations to everyone involved for putting on yet another great show in such a beautiful setting and thank you to the owners and pilots for their skilled performances and support of this worthy cause.


Please click HERE to see the full gallery of images.

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The Red Baron Flies Again.

The quiet grass strip at Luskintyre,in the Hunter Valley near Newcastle, NSW, had an unusual, but very welcome visitor recently, in the form of Fokker DR.1 Triplane replica, VH-FXP, operated by The Australian Vintage Aviation Society (TAVAS) in Queensland.Mottys-Triplane VH-FXP Luskintyre Paul Bennet-3284-001-ASO

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Mottys-Triplane VH-FXP Luskintyre Paul Bennet-1656-001-ASO

Mottys-Triplane VH-FXP Luskintyre Paul Bennet-3064-001-ASO

The Triplane replica had been at Luskintyre for some work at the hands of Matt Webber and the professional team at Luskintyre Aircraft Restorations.Mottys-Triplane VH-FXP Luskintyre Paul Bennet-3613-001-ASO

Mottys-Triplane VH-FXP Luskintyre Paul Bennet-0726-001-ASO

Mottys-Triplane VH-FXP Luskintyre Paul Bennet-1144-001-ASO

Mottys-Triplane VH-FXP Luskintyre Paul Bennet-1255-001-ASO

Mottys-Triplane VH-FXP Luskintyre Paul Bennet-3489-001-ASO

The post-maintenance check flight was carried out by Paul Bennet from Paul Bennet Airshows who said that the Triplane was very enjoyable to fly.

Mottys-Triplane VH-FXP Luskintyre Paul Bennet-0078-001-ASO
Matt Webber and Paul Bennet discuss the finer points of the unusual Triplane prior to the check-flight.
Mottys-Triplane VH-FXP Luskintyre Paul Bennet-0036-001-ASO
What an incredible comparison in both size and performance for single engined, propeller-driven aircraft.

Mottys-Triplane VH-FXP Luskintyre Paul Bennet-2453-001-ASO

Mottys-Triplane VH-FXP Luskintyre Paul Bennet-3742-001-ASO

Mottys-Triplane VH-FXP Luskintyre Paul Bennet-4125-001-ASO

Our sincere thanks to the teams at Paul Bennet Airshows and Luskintyre Aircrfat Restorations for the opportunity to capture this very interesting aircraft in such a great setting. 


Click HERE to see the full gallery of images.

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Life’s a Beech Adventure.

The beautiful silver twin seemed to hang motionless in the air as the day’s last light danced across its graceful, classic lines.Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 3332 -ASO

Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 3647 -ASO

Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 2785 -ASO

One of the newest additions (or returns?) to Australian skies is the lovely Beech 18 VH-BHS “Miss Maple” of Chris and Haley Tibbetts from Beech Adventures, based at Maitland, just west of Newcastle NSW.Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 4466-DTLR-1-1-001-ASO

Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 3763 -ASO

Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 3282 -ASO

Built originally in 1952 as a Beech D18S-3TM Expeditor for the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), the aircraft served for around 20 years before being sold off as surplus and bought by Hamilton Aircraft.Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 1955 -ASO

Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 3810 -ASO

Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 4829 -ASO

While Beechcraft also built civilian versions of the ’18, the surplus ex-military airframes were a popular (and cheaper) choice for many as short-haul airliners, cargo carrying or business and private machines, and Hamilton applied a wide range of modifications to the airframes it bought to increase the performance and capacity of these very versatile aircraft.Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 2814 -ASO

 Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 2923 -ASO

Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 3414 -ASO

Some of the modifications which Hamilton applied to this airframe include extended wing tips, Cargo and air-stair doors, pilot’s escape hatch, two-piece windscreen, stacked exhausts & baffled cowls, an extra fuel tank in a slightly extended nose, a taller tailwheel and an increase to the angle-of-incidence of the tailplane. The performance benefits of these modifications meant an increase in maximum takeoff weight from 9,300Lbs to 10,100 and an increase of 20Kts in cruise speed.Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 2723-DTLR-1-1-001-ASO

Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 2808 -ASO

Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 2752 -ASO

A side-effect of these increases in cargo capacity and performance was that the type became popular with gun and drug-runners in the US and South America, and it was while being used in this capacity in the 1980s that Miss Maple was seized and impounded by US authorities before eventually being auctioned off.  Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 3978 -ASO

Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 4064 -ASO

Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 4431 -ASO

The aircraft passed through a couple of owners in the US before being flown to Australia by Alan Miles and, still with its American Registration, used for tours with Australian Outback Safaris, and even the odd bit of film work in Queensland.Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 3818 -ASO

Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 3312 -ASO

Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 4776 -ASO

Current owners, Chris and Haley, then purchased the aircraft and, with a great deal of very much appreciated help from Luskintyre Aircraft Restoration, Paul Bennet Airshows and Hunter Aerospace, among others, have spent the past two years lovingly restoring her  to her former glory with a beautifully appointed interior and the classic “speedbird, silver finish with red and white trim. The name “Miss Maple” was chosen as a tribute to the aircraft’s origins with the RCAF.Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 3726 -ASO

Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 3927 -ASO

Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 3366 -ASO

Chris and Haley’s aim is to take Miss Maple to Australian airshows and display the beautiful lines of this classic aircraft for the crowds. They also hope to offer the public a chance to take an adventure flight with a difference. One of the limitations of many adventure flight offered by numerous operators around Australia is that only one person is able to go up at a time and the experience can’t be shared with others (simply due to the very nature of the aerobatic aircraft which are often used). What Beech Adventures can offer is the chance for the whole family to go together, in leather appointed comfort, for scenic flights around the Newcastle Coastline and beautiful Hunter Valley, or the local areas around the various airshows they attend, in an aviation classic. The large cargo door can also be removed for flight and the seats removed as well, making for a large cabin space which could also be used for parachute jump flights if required.Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 2823 -ASO

Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 2767 -ASO

Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 2756 -ASO

So keep an eye out for the beautiful “Miss Maple” at your next airshow and make sure to stop by and say G’day.

Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 4314 -ASO

Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 4103 -ASO

Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 3935 -ASO

My sincere thanks to Chris and Haley Tibbetts of Beech Adventures and Paul Bennet and Glenn Graham from Paul Bennet Airshows for the opportunity to capture this classic in such beautiful light too.


Click HERE to see the full gallery of images.

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BAE Systems’ upgraded Hawks take to the sky

The Initial Operating Capability for the Lead-In Fighter Capability Assurance Program (LIFCAP) was recognised at a ceremony at RAAF Base Williamtown today.Mottys-BAE-SYSTEMS-Hawk-LIFCAP-Milestone-76SQN-Williamtown-A27-16-0058-001-ASO

The Royal Australian Air Force’s pilots of the future are now flying the latest, digital standard of Hawk advanced jet trainer having accepted the first upgraded aircraft from BAE Systems. The first cohort from 79 Squadron at RAAF Base Pearce has commenced training, taking advantage of enhanced training capabilities which make the RAAF’s fleet amongst the most advanced in the world.Mottys-BAE-SYSTEMS-Hawk-LIFCAP-Milestone-76SQN-Williamtown-A27-16-0012-001-ASO

Each upgraded Hawk provides new training capabilities including simulated radar, electronic warfare, digital mapping, ground proximity warning system and traffic collision avoidance. The upgrade also includes the replacement of two legacy synthetic training devices with three full mission simulators provided by CAE. The upgrade of the Australian Hawk fleet is delivering an enhanced training capability to prepare pilots for life in the cockpit of fast jet aircraft including F/A-18 A/B Classic Hornets, F/A-18F Super Hornets, EA-18G Growlers and, when introduced into service in late 2018, the F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters.

RAAF Hawk returning for it's fast pass over the crowd and base.
A LIFCAP Hawk in action as part of the 2017 Dawn Strike.

BAE Systems’ engineering teams in Australia and the UK, together with CAE and Cubic Defense Applications Inc, have worked closely with the Commonwealth to deliver this enhanced capability. A joint team of BAE Systems and RAAF technicians has already completed the upgrade of 12 of the 33 fleet of aircraft. Once modified, all 33 aircraft will be almost identical to the Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) of the UK’s Royal Air Force.

L-R, Wg CDR Carlos Almenara (A/OC 78WG), Gp Cpt David Langlois (OC TFSPO) and Mr Steve Sheard (Head of Engineering & Product Development, BAE UK) mark the achievement of this significant milestone for the BAE Hawk 127.

BAE Systems Australia Chief Executive, Glynn Phillips said: “The upgraded BAE Systems Hawk aircraft provides the RAAF with a leading edge capability and, coupled with the CAE full mission simulators, delivers a highly impressive Lead-In Fighter Training System (LIFTS) that will ensure Hawk retains its effectiveness into the next decade and beyond.

A27-16, one of the upgraded jets, on show at the ceremony.

“The upgrade brings the RAAF Hawk up to the same platform capability as the most modern Hawk aircraft around the globe; allowing for future shared development and potentially shared cost, across multiple users.”

Some of the key members of the LIFCAP program, L-R, Gp Capt Robert Denny (Acting/CDR ACG), Gp Capt Langlois, Mr Steve Sheard, Mr Steve Drury (Head of Aerospace, BAE Australia), AIR CDRE Greg Hoffman (DG ACS), Mr Steve Underwood (BAE Australia), Wg CDR Carlos Almenara, Mr Matt Hall (TFSPO)

Acting Commander Air Combat Group, Group Captain Robert Denney said: “The Initial Operating Capability for the Lead-In Fighter Capability Assurance Program (LIFCAP) represented an important milestone in developing Air Combat capability and was essential for providing the quality and quantity of pilots and air combat officers for the Air Force.

AWIC17 A27-16 Hawk (1 of 1)
A27-16 returning from the Dawn Strike last week.

“The LIFCAP introduces a major avionics upgrade to the Hawk 127 Lead-In Fighter, three advanced full mission simulators and operational support systems which will ensure that the Lead-In Fighter Training System (LIFTS) is capable of producing sufficient, suitably trained aircrew to operate F/A-18F Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler and F-35A Joint Strike Fighter aircraft. A mid-life upgrade to the Hawk was necessary to ensure its continued viability, to decrease risk to operational conversion output and to provide the LIFTS with adaptability to support the training requirements associated with the new platforms.”

A27-27 was one of the development airframes for the LIFCAP program. Seen here during a flight past Tomaree Headland in 2015 

The upgrade of the aircraft has included full ground testing and developmental flight clearance by a joint RAAF/BAE Systems team beginning in 2014 at BAE Systems Australia at its Fast Jet facility at Williamtown, NSW and the fleet upgrade will be completed by early 2019.Mottys-Tomaree-LIFCAP-HawkK-008

Our thanks to the Royal Australian Air Force and BAE Systems for allowing us to cover this event.





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Dawn Strike 2017 – Hornets Return to Their Nest

The cold morning air was torn apart as wave after wave of aircraft roared low over the airfield in full afterburner before breaking off to land in a seemingly never ending stream.

Taxing out for the mass launch.
Taxing out for the mass launch.
Time to get into the fight.
Time to get into the fight.

After about an hour the first waves of jets started to return back to base

Coming in nice and low !
Coming in nice and low !

AWIC17 Dawn Strike




Last Friday morning (June 30th, 2017) a large crowd braved the cold, both on and off the base, for Dawn Strike, the culmination of the Air Warfare Instructors Course (AWIC) 2017.

The crowd is getting bigger every year.
The crowd is getting bigger every year.
The "Ecto" popped a few times.
The “Ecto” popped a few times.


AWIC17 Dawn Strike

AWIC17 Dawn Strike

Previously known as the Fighter Combat Instructor’s course (FCI) conducted by 2 OCU, which saw the best of the best fighter pilots trained to become the leaders and teachers of the RAAF’s air combat capability; as the Air Force’s roles and technologies have expanded to encompass a wider range of air combat elements in recent times, so has the need to integrate these aspects into an overall and cohesive doctrine of battle-space management.

AWIC17 Dawn Strike

F/A-18F Super Hornet pops some "Ecto"
F/A-18F Super Hornet pops some “Ecto”
AWIC17 Dawn Strike
AWIC17 Dawn Strike

Jet's everywhere.

This growth means that there is now the need to include a wider range of ADF capabilities such as electronic countermeasures, airspace control, communications, information transfer and control and much more, which has led to the establishment of the Air Warfare Center  and the former FCI course develop into the new AWIC course, the purpose of which is “to graduate expert leaders and instructors capable of tactics development, validation and instruction” in the multi-faceted fields of modern air combat.


AWIC17 Dawn Strike
AWIC17 Dawn Strike


AWIC17 Dawn Strike
AWIC17 Dawn Strike

The six month long course has been conducted in conjunction with the “Diamond” series of exercises, such as Diamond Shield back in March which saw the F-16s of the 18th Aggressor Squadron, Alaska, deploy to Williamtown for a few weeks (see that article HERE) and has culminated with the large Diamond Storm exercise held across Australia’s north in recent weeks.  In this final phase of the course, aircraft from 2 OCU, 1, 2, 3, 37, 75, 76 and 77  squadrons took part in a mock-attack towards Williamtown with various elements tasked as either offensive or counter-offensive forces. At the conclusion of the battle (as was the tradition during the former FCI course), all the participating aircraft recover to Williamtown in a series of low level, high speed approaches at the crack of dawn. And that’s what the spotters were there to see. Speaking with one of the pilots about how he would describe the battle out at sea, he went on to say “Think of Knights on horseback charging each other, swords drawn for battle. Clashing in the middle to determine the Victor.”


A21-16 2OCU 75th Anniversary Tail
A21-16 2OCU 75th Anniversary Tail


Around 20 classic Hornets and two Hawks launched from RAAF Williamtown at 6am while another 20-or-so Classic and Super Hornets departed from RAAF Amberley. Also on hand was an E-7 Wedgetail from 2 Squadron to provide battlefield command & control and a C-130J from 37 Squadron.

C-130J-30 Hercules on the run in.



RAAF E-7 Wedgetail about to land.
RAAF E-7 Wedgetail about to land.

As word of this event has grown over recent years, it has become a major highlight of the Australian “Spotters” calendar, with people travelling from all around the country to witness the spectacle. The viewing areas in front of the base were full to the brim with spectators, enthusiast and casual alike and, after the previous few times occurring under gray and dreary conditions, this year they were treated to a fantastic (although freezing) clear winter’s dawn.



A21-8 75SQN F/A-18A Hornet
A21-8 75SQN F/A-18A Hornet
A21-16 2OCU 75th Anniversary Tail
A21-16 2OCU 75th Anniversary Tail

ASO was able to cover the event from several vantage points; the viewing areas in front of the base (which is a great spot to capture all of the aircraft as they make their final approaches), mid-field at Air Movements and from the control tower. As the first tiny specs appeared over the coast, to the east, it was on! A fantastic assault of the senses as the aircraft tore across the field in full ‘burner with the occasional puff of “ecto” as they squeezed the moisture out of the air before pitching up to join the circuit downwind. Wave after wave streaking in while an almost constant stream of jets turned onto finals to land over the viewing areas, all in the most fantastic early morning light. And it’s not often that you get to see a Wedgetail do a low initial-and-pitch, or a C-130 pulling “ecto” as it pitches into the circuit either.Mottys-RAAF-Williamtown-Dawn-Strike-2017-0698-ASO

RAAF Hawk returning for it's fast pass over the crowd and base.
RAAF Hawk returning for it’s fast pass over the crowd and base.
RAAF C-130J-30 Hercules even popped a little "ecto".
RAAF C-130J-30 Hercules even popped a little “ecto”.

While a fantastic chance for those of us on the ground to get a rare glimpse of the RAAF in action, this was really about the people involved and the culmination of several months of the most intense study and stress that they have probably ever experienced, in order to become the future of Australia’s air combat capability. Our sincere congratulations to all of the Graduates of the inaugural Air Combat Instructor’s Course and our thanks to the Royal Australian Air Force for allowing us to cover it for you.Mottys-RAAF-Williamtown-Dawn-Strike-2017-0989-ASO


RAAF E-7 Wedgetail landing last.
RAAF E-7 Wedgetail landing last.


A short video of the action from the Control Tower-

If you are in school and are thinking about a career in the Royal Australian Air Force then for more information click here- http://www.defencejobs.gov.au/airforce/

Dream, Believe & Achieve.

ASO would like to thank the Royal Australian Air Force, 2OCU, The Air Warfare Center 88SQN,SQNLDR Bruce Chalmers for the support and access to cover AWIC17.

Click HERE to see the full gallery of images.



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Winter Solstice at Luskintyre

Last weekend saw the close-knit community at Luskintyre, a small grass airfield west of Newcastle NSW mark the Winter Solstice with a good, old-fashioned bonfire night.Mottys-Luskintyre-Bonfire-Night-2017-6736-ASO

After a few weeks of dodgy weather, we were finally treated to a spectacular, clear winter’s afternoon which was all the encouragement many needed to commit aviation, with a steady stream of aircraft taking advantage of the beautiful weather throughout the afternoon.Mottys-Luskintyre-Bonfire-Night-2017-Yak-52-VH-VMI-0295-ASO





Naturally, Tigermoths were well represented.Mottys-Luskintyre-Bonfire-Night-2017-Tigermoth-VH-BGR-0102-ASO








Paul Bennet and the team stopped by with their Wolf Pitts, Rebel 300 and Wirraway and treated us to some brilliant flying and the beautiful afternoon provided some great light.Mottys-Luskintyre-Bonfire-Night-2017-PBA-Formation-0460-ASO




















Balloons Aloft also brought along a couple of their craft to provide rides for kids (both young and old) as the light faded and temperatures dropped. This also made for quite a spectacular light show if, like me, you haven’t had the chance to see a balloon flown at night.Mottys-Luskintyre-Bonfire-Night-2017-Balloons-Aloft-5863-ASO



And, after my first real attempts at night photography at Illawarra recently (and thanks to the lessons from Mark Jessop and Leigh Atkinson) I took the chance to try some night shots as well.Mottys-Luskintyre-Bonfire-Night-2017-6133-ASO




Thanks to everyone involved for another great afternoon and evening at this wonderful little rural airfield.


Click HERE to see the full gallery of images.

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Dawn Strike, Heads-Up


F/A-18A A21-26 2OCU 70th Anniversary tail

Up to 35 aircraft will conduct a ‘dawn strike’ on Royal Australian Air Force Base Williamtown on Friday 30 June between approximately 7am to 7.30am as the Air Force’s newest air warfare combat instructors return home from Exercise Diamond Storm in the Northern Territory.Mottys RAAF FA-18 Williamtown FCI 2015 1004

Local residents are advised more than 30 x F/A-18A Hornets, two Hawk 127 Lead-In Fighter aircraft will return to base flying in formations of up to four fighter jet aircraft, accompanied by  two C-130J Hercules transport aircraft and an E-7A Wedgetail.F/A-18A Hornet High speed turn

Mottys Williamtown Centenary 3 Family Day Hawk 0050 A27-12-ASO

Mottys Williamtown Centenary 2 Parade Day Parade 0090-ASO

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