The KA350 King Air provides Air Force with tactical air mobility to access remote areas of Australia, South East Asia and Pacific regions.
The King Air is a modern twin-engine turboprop with two front seat crew capable of carrying up to four back-seat crew or nine passengers with a range of over 2,000 km.
This important tactical air lift capability is operated by Number 38 Squadron and is used by the School of Air Warfare to provide training for air combat officer, maritime aviation warfare officers and in navigation.
Based at RAAF Bases Townsville and East Sale, the eight KA350 King Airs have been deployed to East Timor, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
Number 32 Squadron at RAAF Base East Sale, Victoria, uses the King Air as the School of Air Warfare's training aircraft, with the student sitting in the co-pilot’s seat or at specially fitted consoles in the rear of the aircraft. Number 32 Squadron King Air aircraft also perform Air Logistics Support tasks.
Students are being trained for a variety of roles including low-level tactical fast-jet operations, maritime patrol and response operations and air battle management. Low-level tactical and maritime training flights are typically conducted 250 to 1,000 feet above ground level.
A jump seat may be fitted centrally behind the pilot and co-pilot to allow an instructor to monitor the student and assist the pilot if required.
Students trained on the King Air will graduate as either Air Combat Officers (ACOs) for the RAAF or Maritime Aviation Warfare Officers (AvWOs) for the Royal Australian Navy. Members of the New Zealand Defence Force are also trained at the school, and graduate as Air Warfare Officers for the Royal New Zealand Air Force or Observers in the Royal New Zealand Navy.
Number 38 Squadron operates the aircraft in the light transport role with a surveillance platform capability. The aircraft operates throughout the Australian, South East Asia and Pacific regions and has been deployed to East Timor, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
Number 38 Squadron continues to provide transport support to the ADF specifically including the Regional Force Surveillance units operating throughout Northern Australia.
Review of KA350 King Air Fleet
The Number 38 Squadron KA350 King Air fleet was established as an Interim Light Transport capability following the withdrawal from service of the Caribou aircraft in 2009, and prior to the introduction of the C-27J Spartan.
As the introduction of the C-27J Spartan progresses, Air Force is reviewing the disposition of its King Air Fleet, including the future requirement for Number 38 Squadron. As part of this review, Air Force is considering consolidating its King Air fleet at RAAF Base East Sale in Victoria. A consolidated fleet would result in greater efficiencies in support costs, as well as workforce and training benefits for Air Force. Current leasing arrangements for a number of aircraft are due to be reviewed in the 2018 timeframe, and a decision on the fleet disposition is likely to align with this process.
RAAF Base Townville is an important part of Defence capability and will continue to support Army and Air Force capabilities into the future. Significant investment in RAAF Base Townsville is being undertaken to support operations, exercises and training in Australia's North and North East for air lift, maritime and fighter aircraft.