Losses and Aviation Safety

Australia buried 23 F-111 strike aircraft after the Pig’s retirement. Here’s why.

The decision to dispose of the F-111 aircraft in this manner incurred the displeasure of the nation’s aviation enthusiasts.

The General Dynamics F-111C was a variant of the F-111 Aardvark medium-range interdictor and tactical strike aircraft, developed by General Dynamics to meet Australian requirements. The design was based on the F-111A model but included longer wings and strengthened undercarriage.

The Australian government ordered 24 F-111Cs to equip the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in 1963, but the aircraft were not delivered until 1973 because of long-running technical problems. During 1979 and 1980 four of these aircraft were converted to the RF-111C reconnaissance variant. Four ex–US Air Force (USAF) F-111As were purchased by Australia and converted to F-111C standard in 1982 to replace F-111Cs destroyed during accidents. Australia also operated 15 F-111Gs between 1993 and 2007, mainly for conversion training.

This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F-111F Aardvark 48th Tactical Fighter Wing, 495th Tactical Fighter Squadron, LN/70-2391, RAF Lakenheath, UK, 1991.

In Australian military and aviation circles, the F-111 Aardvark was affectionately known as the “Pig”, due to its long snout and terrain-following ability.

The operational career of the F-111 came to an end on Dec. 3, 2010 at RAAF Amberley, near Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, as a crew in an F-111C (serial number A8-125) of the RAAF touched down for the aircraft’s last landing.

Following the F-111s’ retirement, 13 of the surviving aircraft (12 F-111Cs and a single F-111G) were preserved in aviation museums and RAAF air bases. The remaining 23 aircraft were buried at the Swanbank landfill site outside of Ipswich, Queensland, between Nov. 21 and 23, 2011, as the footage and the pictures in this post show.

The decision to dispose of the aircraft in this manner incurred the displeasure of the nation’s aviation enthusiasts.

In fact while no one wanted to see the veterans of the RAAF come to such an end, it was a requirement of Australian military arrangement with the US that they be securely disposed of.

Gregg Gray, former Senior Noncommissioned Officer (SNCO), US Air Force, explains why the RAAF F-111s had to be buried on Quora. ‘Only the fuselage was buried. The wings and stabilizers as well the tail were removed for scrap. The fuselages were constructed out of bonded panels, and that bonding used asbestos, this is why it was deemed prudent to bury them. Trying to recover the materials was not cost effective, and it was full of hazards requiring a very comprehensive facility and PPE to even attempt. So, it was decided to bury them to take away the possibility of exposure to asbestos. They were barely recognizable by the time they were buried. There is even a diagram of their final resting place and date of interment.’

Photo credit: Queensland Times, ADF, F-111 Disposal Team

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

Recent Posts

Airline captain explains why arguments between pilots and ATCs are more frequent at New York JFK than in other airports

Arguments between pilots and ATCs Pilots and air traffic controllers (ATCs) don’t usually argue, but… Read More

2 hours ago

SR-71 Blackbird Mach 3 spy plane’s titanium parts made in summer corroded while those made in winter didn’t. Here’s why.

The Blackbird The SR-71, unofficially known as the “Blackbird,” was a long-range, Mach 3+, strategic… Read More

1 day ago

When a B-52 pitched up and collided with a KC-135 over Palomares: the story of the most famous Broken Arrow accident

Operation Chrome Dome Operation Chrome Dome was Strategic Air Command's unprecedented nuclear deterrence operation, a… Read More

1 day ago

B-52H crew earn award for skillfully recovering at 1,200 feet after 4 engines flamed out on one side

B-52H crew earn Air Force Global Strike Command General Curtis E. LeMay award The Air… Read More

2 days ago