Military Aviation

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

23 F-111 aircraft were buried at the Swanbank landfill site outside of Ipswich, Queensland, between Nov. 21 and 23, 2011.

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 Royal Australian Air Force touched down for the aircraft’s last landing. The RAAF had operated the F-111 since 1973.

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.

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.

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.

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