Air capability development

Defence’s Air Domain will receive approximately $65 billion to develop air capabilities.

ISR and Electronic Warfare

Air Force is developing capabilities that strengthen the ability to operate in contested and complex ISR and electromagnetic environments.

These include:

  • Upgrades to the EA-18G Growler electronic attack capability
  • Upgrades and enhancements to the Jindalee Operational Radar Network which provides wide area surveillance of the air and sea approaches to northern Australia
  • The acquisition of the MC-55A Peregrine capabilities.

In addition, there is new or additional investment in:

  • An expansion of the JORN radar in Longreach QLD to provide broader coverage into the South-West Pacific
  • Acquisition of additional crewed and uncrewed ISR aircraft
  • Replacement and expanded airborne electronic attack aircraft
  • The development and delivery of uncrewed air vehicles with mission specific ISR payloads.

Air Combat

Air Force is continuing:

  • To procure 72 F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters
  • To invest in the sustainment of the F/A-18AF Super Hornet strike aircraft; and
  • The procurement of enhanced air launched munitions.

The Force Structure Plan also provides for new and additional investment in:

  • A fourth air combat squadron later in the decade
  • High speed missiles and advanced long-range land and maritime strike weapons
  • Remotely-piloted and/or autonomous combat aircraft including air-teaming vehicles such as Ghost Bat for air combat roles
  • Enhanced self-protection for aircraft; and
  • Research and development in high speed missile defence, including hypersonic weapons.

Maritime Patrol and Response

Air Force will continue to invest in:

  • Capability upgrades, including to its radar, for the P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol capability; and
  • The procurement of the MQ-4C Triton Maritime Remotely Piloted capability.

Compared to legacy systems, the P-8A Poseidon and the MQ-4C Triton provide a significant enhancement in Defence’s ability to maintain situational awareness of Australia’s maritime approaches.

Air Mobility

There will be continued investment in support, and through-life upgrades to:

  • The KC-30A multi-role tanker/transport
  • The C-17A Globemaster heavy air mobility
  • The C-130J Hercules medium air mobility, and
  • The C-27J Spartan light air mobility capability.

It also provides for new and additional investment in:

  • Large aircraft electronic warfare self-protection across the air mobility fleets to enhance the survivability of aircrew and aircraft against modern threats
  • Replacement and expansion of the C-130J Hercules medium air mobility fleet
  • An expanded replacement fleet for the KC-30A air-to-air refuelling tankers, including with crewed and/or remotely piloted platforms, to enhance the capacity of the Air Force to operate at long range and sustain operations.

Combat Support Group

The strategy provides for continued development of the Woomera Range facility; the upgrade of Defence air traffic management systems; and upgrades to Air Force training systems such as the PC-21 fleet, simulators and training aids.

It also provides for new and additional investment in deployable aircraft hangars; aircraft battle damage repair capabilities; acquisition of a counter-Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear capability to support the decontamination of bases and aircraft; and enhancements to infrastructure to improve the capacity, survivability and capability of northern Australian bases.


Sustainable Air Force innovation requires an intelligent and skilled community who demonstrate agility, creativity and innovation at every level in our workforce – and extended community.

This is a shared goal as set out in the Defence Science and Technology Strategy which aims to develop a highly skilled and collaborative workforce, recognising diversity in partnerships and building shared culture.