Establishment of RAAF Base Townsville

15 Oct 1940

In 1939, Townsville City Council transferred the city airport to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). RAAF Base Townsville was formed on 15 October 1940 and has a long and proud association with the people of North Queensland.

Along with RAAF Base Darwin, RAAF Base Townsville is one of northern Australia's primary Defence installations, supported by the motto ‘Guarding the North’.

In 1942, RAAF Base Townsville played a critical role in the Battle of the Coral Sea and at one point was one of the largest US Air Force bases outside of the United States.

The Base is strategically important as it is often used as a staging or stepping-off point for forces being deployed on military operations, including Australian humanitarian and peacekeeping efforts. It also provides an important role in training future pilots and hosts a number of exercises during the year.

RAAF Base Townsville is home to a large number of units including:

  • No 383 Squadron - contingency response
  • No 452 Squadron Townsville Flight - air traffic control
  • No 27 (City of Townsville) Squadron - airbase operations
  • Combat Survival Training School - evasion and escape training
  • Army's No 5 Aviation Regiment
  • 1 Expeditionary Health Squadron Detachment Townsville
  • No 2 Security Squadron detachment Townsville

RAAF Base Townsville is used as a mounting base for Army’s Townsville-based 3rd Brigade and as a training base for Air Force’s Air Combat Group and Air Mobility Group. It may also be used as a mounting base or forward operating base for Air Force operations and Naval Support operations in the Coral Sea.

HQ RAAF Base Townsville is also directly responsible for personnel and ADF assets located at RAAF Base Scherger.

RAAF Base Scherger is one of the Royal Australian Air Force's three 'bare bases', completing a chain of bases across Australia’s 'top end'. It was officially opened by then Prime Minister John Howard on 5 August 1998.

The base is located 26 kilometers east of Weipa on the western side of Cape York Peninsula in Queensland.  The base has facilities to cater for 400 personnel in fixed accommodation, 1,000 personnel in tent lines and about 40 aircraft. During peacetime, RAAF Base Scherger hosts on average, one major exercise per year in which the base is fully activated through the arrival of RAAF units based elsewhere in Australia. Minimal facilities and infrastructure have been established to support military deployments and exercises. RAAF Base Scherger consists of a 3,050 m long runway with a parallel taxiway and one oblique taxiway which can also be used as an emergency runway.

Related base

  • RAAF Base Scherger
  • RAAF Base Townsville