Establishment of RAAF Base Edinburgh

22 Mar 1954

RAAF Base Edinburgh (Inc Woomera), South Australia

South Australia has a proud history with military aviation in Australia, dating back to its earliest days with many South Australians playing key roles in the Australian Flying Corps in World War 1 and the development of the RAAF between the wars. Sir Richard Williams KBE CB DSO, the first military-trained pilot in Australia and the Air Force’s first Chief of the Air Staff (widely regarded as the ‘Father’ of the RAAF), was born and raised in Moonta SA. During World War II, South Australian RAAF bases at Port Pirie, Mt Gambier, Mallala and Victor Harbor trained thousands of airmen.

The presence at Edinburgh dates back to World War II when the largest munitions plant in the Southern Hemisphere was established at Penfield, a small village to the south of the current base. From 1946 to the mid-1960s, several thousand Australians and British nationals were based at Penfield, Woomera and Mallala supporting weapons research and testing. In the early 1950s it was recognised that a more capable air base was required to support these activities and on 22 March 1954, RAAF Base Edinburgh was formally opened by His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

With the British concluding their research activities in the 1960s, 11 Squadron moved to RAAF Base Edinburgh from RAAF Townsville with its new P-3B Orion aircraft, starting a long relationship with South Australia.  In 1975, 92 Wing was established, comprising both 11 Squadron and 10 Squadron, which relocated from RAAF Richmond to RAAF Edinburgh with its new P-3C Orion aircraft, 292 Training Squadron and 492 Maintenance Squadron. Since then, a variety of RAAF units have called Edinburgh home including intelligence, radar, electronic warfare, security, air operations support and flight test. From 1964 to 2008, RAAF Edinburgh was the home to Air Force recruit training with No 1 Recruit Training School.

Today, RAAF Base Edinburgh, along with Defence Science Technology Group, Edinburgh Parks and the Woomera Range Complex, is part of the Edinburgh Defence Precinct. Over 6,500 RAAF and Army personnel from 1Bde, Defence civilians and contractors work across the operationally focused joint Defence establishment, which has also become the Australian Defence Force’s major intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance, and electronic warfare hub.

Over the next five years, RAAF Base Edinburgh will undergo continued development highlighting its ongoing importance. With infrastructure to support the recently-acquired P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft now completed, major construction projects will continue well into the next decade to support Army armoured fighting vehicles and planned Air Force capabilities including the MC-55A electronic warfare aircraft, MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft, and MQ-9 unmanned aircraft which will soon call Edinburgh home.

Related base

  • RAAF Base Edinburgh