All four Air Combat Group aircraft; the PC-9, Hawk-127, F/A-18A Classic Hornet and F/A-18F Super Hornet, fly in formation in the airspace near RAAF Base Williamtown.
All four Air Combat Group aircraft; the PC-9, Hawk-127, F/A-18A Classic Hornet and F/A-18F Super Hornet, fly in formation in the airspace near RAAF Base Williamtown. CPL Craig Barrett

'GIVE IT A RED HOT GO': Callout for Super Hornet pilots

TWO Super Hornets left from RAAF Base Amberley yesterday on a rarely seen low-level flight where aircraft flew as low as 45m at 555km/hr to train for potential combat scenarios.

Pilots conducted navigational exercises which saw the F/A 1-F fly low over northern New South Wales and south-east Queensland.

RAAF Group Captain Ian Goold is the director of training for the Air Combat Group and explained exactly what it takes to get a young Air Force recruit ready for war.

When asked if the RAAF focus on Air Combat Officer and pilot recruitment had increased since the rise in concerns of a war with North Korea, the Group Captain said there was always a need to have officers combat ready, no matter what the global conditions were.

"It's the never-ending aim of the Air Force to recruit the next generation of Air Combat Officers and pilots," he said.

"The training is challenging. It takes about four years from when a young man or woman starts to become combat-ready.

"They start with slower aircraft then move on to faster, more punchy aircraft with more weapons."

Group Captain Goold has been in the RAAF for 16 years and served for 13 years in the British RAF before coming to Australia.

He said there were three main campaigns officers trained in, air to surface, air to air and electronic warfare.

"Air to surface can be weapons to the ground like in campaigns in Northern Iraq and Syria," he said. "Air to air (would be used) if the enemy comes in and we need to shoot them out of the sky.

"The other type is electronic warfare, that's like the (unmanned) Boeing EA-18G Growler aircraft that's coming to Amberley this year.

"Of course these are over-simplifications but they are the three main campaigns we teach recruits about whey start training."

The Group Captain said most real-life combat scenarios would combine one, two or even the three key types of campaigns.

He encouraged young people who liked to be challenged and enjoyed working as a team to think about a career as a pilot or Air Combat Officer.

"We need people who are up for the mental and physical challenge, people who will give it a red hot go, think under pressure and those who can work as a team," he said. "There are a lot of people who become successful pilots who don't have any prior flying experience (before they join).

"Flying as a career is an amazing experience. I've had a long career in the Air Force flying at speeds of more than 1000km an hour.

"I'd like to say too that this is not a male-only role. We are keen to make sure young woman are also being recruited to become pilots."


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