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.

Press release
Min­is­te­r­i­al Sup­port and Pub­lic Affairs,
Depart­ment of Defence,
Can­ber­ra, Aus­tralia

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