As Australia’s F‑111 fleet retires, the Minister for Defence Science & Personnel, Warren Snowdon, praised the significant contribution made by the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO).
“DSTO has supported every aspect of the operation and maintenance of Australia’s F‑111 fleet, particularly since 1998 when Australia became the sole operator of the aircraft in the world.
“The repair and modification solutions developed by DSTO have ensured the safe and economical operation of the F‑111 well beyond the manufacturer’s use-by date,” Mr Snowdon said.
“This has resulted in saving many millions of tax payer dollars by increasing the aircraft’s availability and providing the Australian Defence Force with findings that go toward supporting present and future aircraft,” he said.
DSTO has provided advice covering the F‑111’s airframes and engines, weapons and stores, electronic warfare and signature management, and platform information systems.
DSTO was key in developing solutions to problems with manufacturing defects in the Wing Carry Through Box, Upper Wing Pivot Fitting cracking, and Outer Lower Wing Skin cracking. Solutions included composite bonded repairs and the re-shaping of components to strengthen points of weakness.
Significant fatigue testing of replacement F‑111 wings found that all wings in the fleet had sufficient durability to safely reach the RAAF’s planned withdrawal date.
“In providing support for the F‑111 fleet, DSTO has developed many capabilities which have put the organisation at the forefront of the international aircraft structural integrity community.”
“These capabilities will be crucial in supporting new platforms such as the Joint Strike Fighter and Wedgetail aircraft,” Mr Snowdon said.
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