For more than a century, South Australia has made a significant contribution to the nation’s Air Force. As the nation’s centre for the defence industry, the state will continue to play a key role in building, enhancing and sustaining the Air Force of the future.

South Australia’s ties to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) go back to Sir Richard Williams – the ‘Father of the RAAF’ – born and raised in Moonta, South Australia, in the late 1800s. As the first military pilot trained in Australia, Sir Richard Williams was a staunch advocate for an independent air force and instrumental in establishing the RAAF becoming its first Chief of the Air Staff from 1922.

Three decades later, RAAF Base Edinburgh was officially established in South Australia to support weapons research and testing. Today, it is one of only two super Defence bases in the country and is part of the state’s Edinburgh Defence Precinct. The precinct is also home to the Defence Science and Technology Group, Edinburgh Parks and more than 6,500 personnel and their families.

Reflecting on this rich history, Defence SA Chief Executive Richard Price said South Australia has always played a critical role in surveillance and Information Warfare for the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

“With an ever-increasing focus on intelligence, surveillance and cyber as well as aircraft and weapons testing, RAAF Edinburgh is leading the development and sustainment of capabilities to support the next generation Air Force,” Mr Price said.

Home to RAAF’s 92 Wing, Remote Sensing Unit, Air Warfare Centre, Aircraft Research and Development Unit, and supporting the Woomera Test Range, Edinburgh Defence Precinct is a hub for the capabilities and personnel required to support the ADF into the future.

“South Australia is the Defence and Space State, with a strong reputation for its innovation, world-class research and development and home to some of the country’s most innovative companies and advanced defence and space precincts,” he said.

“This, along with our highly skilled workforce, means South Australia is ideally positioned to continue its support of the RAAF and broader Defence operations in our state.”

In the coming years, RAAF Base Edinburgh will undergo continued development to make way for the delivery of new aircraft, including Australia’s new MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft, MQ-9B Sky Guardian unmanned aerial vehicles and MC-55A Peregrine – complementing the recently acquired P-8A Poseidon aircraft for maritime surveillance.

Increasingly, space capabilities will play a pivotal role in enhancing ADF operations. South Australia is already leading the nation’s space endeavours, with local companies currently working closely with Defence on projects such as satellite communications, surveillance and Space Domain Awareness. The state will continue to support the manufacture, launch and exploitation of sovereign space capabilities to sustain the Air Force of the future.

Over the next 100 years, innovation and agility will be key to supporting the next generation Air Force. South Australia is already strengthening collaboration between industry and the research community, along with building its skilled workforce and a highly capable SME sector to ensure the ADF maintains its capability edge.

South Australia has a long and proud connection to the Air Force and is committed to building on the RAAF’s strong and proud history in the state and living the motto Per Ardua Ad Astra – through adversity to the stars.

main pic A RAAF P-8A Poseidon aircraft undergoing maintenance at RAAF Base Edinburgh, South Australia. Defence image.