See the largest collection of Australian Defence Force aircraft ever seen in the Illawarra

Each year Airshows Downunder Shellharbour is supported by all three arms of the Australian Defence Force, with air displays and static exhibits from the Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Australian Navy and Australian Army. Although the Defence line-up for Airshows Downunder Shellharbour 2024 is yet to be finalised, here’s what made all of the noise in the past:

Royal Australian Air Force

The Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18A/B Hornet (now retired) brought the house down at the 2018 airshow, with two aircraft from No. 2 Operational Conversion Unit (2 OCU), RAAF Base Williamtown. The F/A-18A/B Hornet fleet has now been replaced with 24 F/A-18F Super Hornets which, in conjunction with F-35A Lightning IIs and EA-18G Growlers, ensure that Australia’s air combat capability edge is maintained.

The C-130J Hercules is a medium-sized tactical air lifter. Capable of carrying 120 passengers, or seven pallets of cargo, their ability to land on short or unsurfaced airstrips makes them highly desirable for regional air lift in conjunction with the C-27J Spartan. Based at RAAF Base Richmond, the 12 C-130J Hercules are also capable of air dropping supplies and parachuting personnel. The C-130J Hercules are an important air link with the Middle East, carrying supplies and personnel between locations in theatre. The C-130J is also an important asset in Australia’s search and survivor assistance and disaster relief efforts.

The Hawk 127 lead-in fighter prepares qualified Air Force pilots for conversion to the F-35A Lightning II and F/A-18F Super Hornets. The Hawk is operated by Number 76 Squadron at RAAF Base Williamtown near Newcastle, and Number 79 Squadron at RAAF Base Pearce near Perth. The Hawk is a low-wing, all-metal aircraft, fitted with a navigation and attack system, and powered by a single Adour Mk 871 turbofan engine. The Hawk 127 weapons and equipment system allows for the carriage, aiming and release or firing of practice weapons, conventional and laser-guided bombs, AIM-9M “Sidewinder” missiles and a 30mm cannon.

Royal Australian Navy

The EC-135 T2+ was recently brought into service to replace the retiring AS350 Squirrel as the Navy’s primary aircrew trainer. Operated by 723 Squadron at Navy Air Station, HMAS Albatross, the EC-135 is a military training helicopter that offers modern “glass cockpit” avionics, with high visibility, a multi-axis auto-pilot, plus other advanced technologies to help instructors perform training missions. With the performance and safety of a twin-engine helicopter, it is similar to the multi-role and combat helicopters now in service with the ADF.

725 Squadron’s MH-60R Seahawk is the Royal Australian Navy’s next generation submarine hunter and anti-surface warfare helicopter and will form a very important part of its operations for years to come. The MH-60R is equipped with a highly sophisticated combat systems designed to employ Hellfire air-to-surface missiles and the Mark 54 anti-submarine torpedo. The primary missions of the ‘Romeo’ helicopter are anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare. Secondary missions include search and rescue, logistics support, personnel transport and medical evacuation.