RAAF Base Williamtown
RAAF Base Williamtown (IATA: NTL, ICAO: YWLM) is a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) military air base located 8 nautical miles (15 km; 9.2 mi) north of the coastal city of Newcastle (27 km (17 mi) by road) in the local government area of Port Stephens, in New South Wales, Australia. The base serves as the headquarters to both the Air Combat Group and the Surveillance and Response Group of the RAAF. The military base shares its runway facilities with Newcastle Airport. The nearest towns are Raymond Terrace, located 8 km (5 mi) west of the base and Medowie, 6.8 km (4.2 mi), north of the base, which is home to many of the base's staff.
|RAAF Base Williamtown|
|Williamtown, New South Wales in Australia|
F/A-18 Hornet taking off from RAAF Base Williamtown
|Type||Military air base|
|Owner||Department of Defence|
|Operator||Royal Australian Air Force|
|Website||RAAF Base Williamtown|
|In use||15 February 1941– present|
|Identifiers||IATA: NTL, ICAO: YWLM|
|Elevation||9 metres (31 ft) AMSL|
|Sources: Australian AIP and aerodrome chart|
RAAF Station Williamtown was established on 15 February 1941 to provide protection for the strategic port and steel manufacturing facilities of the Hunter Region. The base was initially served by four runways, each 1,100 m (3,600 ft) in length to meet the needs of the Williamtown Flying School. The School consisted of 62 buildings which accommodates 366 officers and men.
A number of Australian Empire Air Training Scheme squadrons were formed at Williamtown before proceeding overseas and No. 4 Operational Training Unit was located at Williamtown from October 1942 until the unit was disbanded in April 1944. Following World War II, Williamtown was retained as the RAAF's main fighter base and was equipped with squadrons of Gloster Meteor and CAC Sabre fighters.
In 1983 the role of Williamtown was upgraded to a tactical fighter base in preparation of the replacement of the Mirages with 75 F/A-18 Hornets in 1989. The following year Williamtown became headquarters for the Tactical Fighter group and acquired new headquarter buildings, hangars, workshops, stores, medical facilities and a base chapel.
Current base activityEdit
As of August 2017[update] RAAF Williamtown employed approximately 3,500 personnel, including military, civilians and contractors, and generated A$150 million per annum by way of salaries in the Hunter Region economy.
Williamtown is home to F/A-18 Hornet fighters (operated by No. 2 Operational Conversion Unit, No. 3 Squadron and No. 77 Squadron), BAE Hawk 127 Lead-In Fighters (operated by No. 76 Squadron), E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control aircraft (operated by No. 2 Squadron) and Pilatus PC-9 forward air control aircraft (operated by No. 4 Squadron). It is also home to the Australian Defence Force Warfare Centre and Surveillance and Response Group RAAF.
RAAF Base Williamtown has most of the facilities one would expect to find in a small town, including sporting fields, recreation facilities, cinema and a fortnightly newspaper highlighting activities around the Base and outside community. RAAF Williamtown is the home to Fighter World, a museum dedicated to Australian fighter aircraft.
In 2014 the Australian Government announced that Williamtown will be the home base for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters; the first of which arrived in December 2018, and enter service with the RAAF in 2020. Redevelopment works to prepare the base for the F-35, including a 2000 ft runway extension, began in January 2015. This runway extension will allow fighters to take off without the use of their noisy afterburners, minimising noise for local communities.
The use of firefighting chemicals over a sustained period has resulted in contamination of the groundwater in the area surrounding the base, with residents initiating a class action lawsuit and expressing ongoing concern in national media over the impact on their properties. Nationally, there are 90 sites impacted by PFAS contamination, with more internationally.
The following units are located at RAAF Base Williamtown:
|Unit||Full name||Force Element Group||Aircraft||Notes|
|1ATS DET WLM||No. 1 Air Terminal Squadron Detachment Williamtown||Combat Support Group||N/A|||
|1CCS DET WLM||No. 1 Combat Communications Squadron Detachment Williamtown||Combat Support Group||N/A|||
|1SECFOR||No. 1 Security Forces Squadron||Combat Support Group||N/A|
|2SQN||No. 2 Squadron||Surveillance and Response Group||E-7A|
|2EHS||No. 2 Expeditionary Health Squadron||Combat Support Group||N/A|
|2OCU||No. 2 Operational Conversion Unit||Air Combat Group||F/A-18|
|3SQN||No. 3 Squadron||Air Combat Group||F/A-18|
|4SQN||No. 4 Squadron||Air Combat Group||PC-9|
|3CRU||No. 3 Control and Reporting Unit||Surveillance and Response Group||N/A|||
|26SQN||No. 26 (City of Newcastle) Squadron||Combat Support Group||N/A||Airbase operations|
|HQ453SQN||Headquarters No. 453 Squadron||Surveillance and Response Group||N/A|
|453SQN WLM FLT||No. 453 Squadron Williamtown Flight||Surveillance and Response Group||N/A|
|76SQN||No. 76 Squadron||Air Combat Group||BAe-Hawk 127|
|77SQN||No. 77 Squadron||Air Combat Group||F/A-18|
|278SQN||No. 278 Squadron||Air Combat Group||N/A|||
|381ECSS||No. 381 Expeditionary Combat Support Squadron||Combat Support Group||N/A||Contingency operations|
|CSU-WLM||Combat Support Unit – Williamtown||Combat Support Group||N/A|||
|HQ41WG||Headquarters No. 41 Wing||Surveillance and Response Group||N/A|
|HQ42WG||Headquarters No. 42 Wing||Surveillance and Response Group||N/A|
|HQ44WG||Headquarters No. 44 Wing||Surveillance and Response Group||N/A|
|HQ78WG||Headquarters No. 78 Wing||Air Combat Group||N/A|||
|HQ81WG||Headquarters No. 81 Wing||Air Combat Group||N/A|
|HQACG||Headquarters Air Combat Group||Air Combat Group||N/A|
|HQSRG||Surveillance and Response Group||Surveillance and Response Group||N/A|
|SACTU||Surveillance and Control Training Unit||Surveillance and Response Group||N/A|||
|335SQN AAFC||No. 335 Squadron Australian Air Force Cadets||Australian Air Force Cadets||N/A|||
|AEWCSPO||Airborne Early Warning Control System Program Office||Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group||N/A|||
|GTESPO||Ground Telecommunications Equipment Systems Program Office||Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group||N/A|||
|TFSPO||Tactical Fighter System Program Office||Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group||N/A|
- PDF). AIP En Route Supplement from Airservices Australia, effective 28 February 2019, Aeronautical Chart Archived 10 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine p. 1 (
- "Williamtown RAAF Base Group (Place ID 105639)". Australian Heritage Database. Department of the Environment. Retrieved 21 September 2018.
- "Government administration and defence" (PDF). Newcastle and the Hunter Region 2008–2009. Hunter Valley Research Foundation. pp. 6–7. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 October 2009. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
- "RAAF Base Williamtown & Salt Ash Air Weapons Range Williamtown, NSW Heritage Management Plan" (PDF). Department of Defence. 11 September 2009. pp. 32–33. Retrieved 20 April 2010.
- "RAAF Base Williamtown". Royal Australian Air Force. Australian Government. Archived from the original on 2 August 2014. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
- "ADFWC Welcome". Australian Defence Force Warfare Centre. Retrieved 6 September 2015.
- "RADAR Magazine home page". radarnews.com.au. Archived from the original on 25 January 2014.
- "About Fighter World". Fighterworld.com.au. Retrieved 6 September 2015.
- Jennings, Gareth (9 December 2018). "First F-35As arrive in Australia". Jane's Information Group.
The first two aircraft (AU-1 and AU-2) arrived at Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Williamtown in New South Wales on 10 December, the Department of Defence (DoD) announced.
- Egan, Geoff (24 April 2014). "Williamtown the winner over Amberley for F-35s". Queensland Times. Australia. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
- Smart, Philip (7 May 2015). "Williamtown starts on F-35 facilities". Australian Defence Magazine. Australia. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
- ELIAS, CHARLES (31 December 2014). "Williamtown RAAF Base work to start in January". Port Stephens Examiner. Retrieved 24 May 2019.
- ELIAS, CHARLES (1 April 2015). "Upgrade of air base takes off". Port Stephens Examiner. Retrieved 24 May 2019.
- "Massive RAAF base upgrade". NewsComAu. 29 August 2015. Retrieved 24 May 2019.
- Media, News Of The Area-Modern (30 September 2016). "RAAF Base Williamtown runway extension opens". News Of The Area. Retrieved 24 May 2019.
- Bevan, Matt (20 May 2016). "Williamtown water contamination becomes key issue in tight electorate race" (Streaming audio). ABC Radio National. Australia. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
- Bevan, Matthew (14 June 2016). "Williamtown and Oakey residents to receive Fed Govt support" (Streaming audio). ABC Radio National. Australia. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
- "WARNING: Ground water contamination at RAAF Base Williamtown". Maitland Mercury. Australia. 4 September 2015. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
- "Residents file toxic water class action over RAAF base". SBS TV. Australia. AAP. 3 November 2016. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
- Fellner, Carrie; Begley, Patrick (17 June 2018). "Toxic Secrets: Where the sites with PFAS contamination are near you". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 25 June 2018.
- "Agencies investigating potential water contamination". Radio New Zealand News. 7 December 2017. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
- "Surveillance and Response Group". Royal Australian Air Force. Australian Government. Retrieved 25 June 2018.
- "3 Wing AAFC – NSW & ACT – Australian Air Force Cadets". Australian Air Force Cadets.