Air Combat Group
Air Combat Group controls all the Royal Australian Air Force's fast-jet combat aircraft to enable control of the air and conduct precision air strikes.
The Group commands three operational wings:
- No 78 Wing conducts operational training;
- No 81 Wing controls the air; and
- No 82 Wing strikes designated targets and conducts surveillance.
Air Combat Group is one of the largest Force Element Groups in the Air Force, with 145 aircraft, 163 aircrew and 2000 support personnel based across Australia.
Air Combat Group operate the following aircraft:
Headquarters is at the RAAF Base Williamtown near Newcastle, with personnel also located at RAAF Base Amberley (QLD), and RAAF Base Tindal (NT).
History and Operations
Air Combat Group was formed in January 2002 by merging the Tactical Fighter Group and Strike Reconnaissance Group. The merger made it easy to deploy combat air power quickly and efficiently.
Since then, Air Combat Group squadrons have experienced a level of activity not seen in many years.
F/A-18 Hornets were deployed to provide air defence as part of Operation Slipper (international coalition against terror) in Diego Garcia, and during Operation Guardian II to protect the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in south-east Queensland.
Air Combat Group personnel, including a F/A-18 Hornet squadron, deployed to Iraq in 2003 as part of Operation Falconer. They provided air defence for high-value assets such as Airborne Early Warning and Control Aircraft, close air support for ground troops and striking enemy targets.
Air Combat Group capabilities have been an important element of contemporary Middle East operations, including Operation Okra.
Air Combat Group also maintains a busy training schedule for both air and ground crew on the F/A-18 Hornet and Hawk, including participating in important exercises such as Exercise Pitch Black in Australia and Exercise Red Flag in the United States.