The Air Force is proud to have been part of the Hunter since the late 1930s when the Defence Practice Area was first designated at Williamtown, and we look forward to continuing our positive relationship with the local community. RAAF Williamtown members at all levels have an excellent rapport with the traditional custodians of the land upon which the land sits – the Worimi people.
RAAF Base Williamtown is home to the command, operational and support elements of Air Combat Group’s tactical fighter force components operating F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, Hawk and PC-9 aircraft. In addition the Base is home to Surveillance and Response Group’s Air Surveillance and Battlefield Management command and support elements and the E-7A Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft. The Base also accommodates elements of the Air Warfare Centre and a number of Combat support Units.
These Force Element Group Headquarters, Wings, Squadrons, Units and Flights are based at Williamtown:
- Headquarters Air Combat Group
- Headquarters Surveillance and Response Group
- No 41 Wing
- No 42 Wing
- No 44 Wing
- No 78 Wing
- No 81 Wing
- Tactics and Training Directorate - Air Warfare Centre
- Australian Defence Force Warfare Centre
- No 1 Security Force Squadron, Headquarters
- No 2 Squadron operating AEW&C E-7A Wedgetail aircraft
- No 2 Operational Conversion Unit (2OCU) operating F-35 Lightning II aircraft
- No 2 Expeditionary Health Squadron, Headquarters
- No 3 Squadron operating F-35 Lightning II aircraft
- No 4 Squadron operating PC-21 Forward Air Control aircraft
- No 26 (City of Newcastle) Squadron - Airbase Operations
- No 76 Squadron operating Hawk Mk127 aircraft
- No 77 Squadron operating F-35 Lightning II aircraft
- No 381 Squadron - Contingency Response
- No 453 Squadron Headquarters
- No 453 Squadron - Williamtown Flight
- No 1 Combat Communication Squadron - Williamtown Flight
- Air Combat System Program Office
- Tactical Fighter System Program Office
- Surveillance and Response System Program Office
- Airborne Early Warning and Control System Program Office
It is Air Force's intent that RAAF Base Williamtown remain as the nation's main fighter pilot training base, and will house most of the planned F-35A Joint Strike Fighter.
RAAF Base Williamtown makes a considerable contribution to the local Hunter community. This includes:
- We employ 4500 people directly, including direct contractors
- Salaries - $280m
- Defence Housing - 857 properties with an annual rent bill of $17.9m
- Private Rental Assistance - 647 instances at $18.8m
Capital Works in the last 10 years
- Williamtown Redevelopment Stage 1 - $149m
- Williamtown Redevelopment Stage 2 (2014 - 2019) - $259m
- New Air Combat Capability Works - $679m
- Runway Extension - $200m
- Aircraft Clear Water Rinse Facility - $3m
- Air Traffic Control tower complex - $65m
Future Capital Works in the next 10 years
- Runway maintenance works $110m
- No 2 Expeditionary Health Squadron storage facilities $5m
- EASTROC replacement - $TBA
Social value to the local community
- our 2000 families live in the community
- our children go to local schools
- our families play in local sporting teams
- our families contribute to local volunteer organisations and community groups
Newcastle Airport operates from RAAF Base Williamtown under a lease with the Department of Defence.
RAAF Base Williamtown and Salt Ash Air Weapons Range
Air Force is proud of its long association with the Hunter Region. RAAF Base Williamtown was formed on 15 February 1941.
Located 30 kilometres north of Newcastle, RAAF Base Williamtown is Australia’s premier fighter pilot training base and this will continue with the introduction of the F-35A Lightning II aircraft.
It is the home base for the tactical fighter element of Air Combat Group (ACG) and the airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) element of Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group (SRG).
The following flying squadrons/units are based at Williamtown:
- Number 3 Squadron (3SQN) operating F-35A Lightning II aircraft
- Number 77 Squadron (77SQN) operating F/A-18A/B Hornet aircraft
- Number 2 Squadron Operational Conversion Unit (2OCU) operating F-35A Lightning II aircraft
- Number 76 Squadron (76SQN) operating Hawk 127 aircraft
- Number 4 Squadron (4SQN) operating PC-21 aircraft
- Number 2 Squadron (2SQN) operating E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning control aircraft
Air Force has an honest and open approach to aircraft noise that may affect neighbours of our bases and training areas.
Our pilots and crews operate their aircraft in a way that minimises aircraft noise, and we freely distribute information about aircraft noise, such as Australian Noise Exposure Forecast (ANEF) maps.
For more information, visit the Defence Aircraft Noise website or call 1300 DEFENCE (1300 333 362).
See Flying Operations to view major training exercises and flying activities.
Read the F-35A Flying Operations Approval and Conditions.
Further information regarding flying operations around the Base can be found here.
Property Development around RAAF Williamtown
The Air Force is proud of its 'fly neighbourly' policy at RAAF Base Williamtown, which reduces aircraft noise for existing homeowners.
One way Air Force reduces aircraft noise around RAAF Base Williamtown is to reduce where possible flights over existing, heavily populated, residential areas.
New developments that are built inside zones of the Australian Noise Exposure Forecast (ANEF) map that are already deemed unsuitable by relevant Australian Standards, will expose new homeowners to aircraft noise.
It is unreasonable to expect Air Force to reduce the noise impact for homeowners that knowingly purchase new properties within these zones.
Williamtown Advisory Group
RAAF Base Williamtown has created an advisory group to establish links with local communities.
Find out more about the Williamtown Advisory Group.
Salt Ash Air Weapons Range
RAAF Base Williamtown is responsible for the Salt Ash Air Weapons Range (SAAWR) which is located approximately 6km to the north-east of the base.
SAAWR is used for air-surface gunnery and bombing practice. The proximity of SAAWR to RAAF Base Williamtown makes it ideal for air-to-ground attack training of pilots.
The primary users of SAAWR are RAAF Base Williamtown Air Combat Group (ACG) Flying Squadrons which include F/A-18 A/B Hornets and the Hawk 127 in addition to the PC-9/A aircraft – Forward Air Control variant.
Night flying can be conducted at the SAAWR until 9:00pm Eastern Standard Time (EST) and 10.30pm Eastern Standard Summer Time. Night flying is restricted to the minimum required to achieve training targets.
Under the Environmental Impact Statement for the Hawk 127 flying operations, SAAWR can be used on a rolling average for 115 days each year.
RAAF Williamtown Aviation Heritage Centre – operated by Fighter World Inc.
The RAAF Williamtown Aviation Heritage Centre, a unit of History and Heritage Branch Air Force, is committed to preserving and displaying historical material relating to RAAF Williamtown and the Royal Australian Air Force operations in the Hunter and New England regions. Located adjacent to the entrance to RAAF Base Williamtown, the Aviation Heritage Centre is a totally ‘hands on’ experience. Exhibited in two hangars, visitors can walk-around, touch and look into the cockpits of such famous aircraft as the Mirage III, the Avon Sabre, the Gloster Meteor, the first Vampire jet built in Australia and the mighty F-111. Future displays will include the Worimi Hornet and a 2 Squadron Canberra bomber. The Aviation Heritage Centre also offers the opportunity to sit in the cockpit of a Mirage interceptor and Macchi jet trainer and experience first-hand what it’s like to be one of Australia’s ‘Top Gun’ pilots in today’s hi-tech world.
From the Observation Deck you can witness the various aircraft of the RAAF’s premier fighter and airborne early warning and control squadrons take-off and land, as well as visiting military aircraft and civil operations from the adjacent Newcastle airport.
The RAAF Williamtown Aviation Heritage Centre is open every day (except Christmas Day) from 10am to 4 pm.
More information about Fighter World can be found here.