RAAF carries out simulated bombing
IF YOU hear an almighty roar overhead in the next couple of days, you’ll know you’re in Evans Head.
The Defence Department is carrying out simulated bombing and strafing runs with its new F/A-18F Super Hornets from the Amberley RAAF Base in South-East Queensland.
The dry runs, with no weapons deployed, should give locals some idea what target practice will be like if a review of the Evans Head Air Weapons Range by the Defence Department clears the area for RAAF exercises.
They will then have to wait for a four-week submission period, expected to start around mid-August, to provide feedback to the department through an Evans Head web page: www.defence.gov.au/raaf_eh/index.htm.
Yesterday a map went online showing exactly where the multi-role fighter jets will carry out bombing, air-to-ground strafing and laser exercises, if all goes to plan for the department.
It gives locals a good look at land-based target zones and the no-go boats zone – both projected danger areas for the operations – and the strafing safety buffer.
“These zones make up the Defence Practice Area at Evans Head which will need to be cleared of all people and vessels when the range is activated,” Air Commodore Mel Hupfeld, Commander Air Combat Group, said.
That activation is expected to take place from March next year for strafing and October next year for bombing runs.
Evans Head residents and fishermen have previously expressed concern the training missions would damage both the tourist trade and commercial fishing.
In particular, access would be blocked to rich fishing grounds between North and South Evans Reef.
However, the department has been at pains to point out that range activation for strafing is likely to be restricted to periods of around one hour, twice a day, for an estimated eight weeks a year.
It has also said it will not schedule training during peak holidays periods, on weekends, at night, or in prime fishing seasons.
The Evans Head Air Weapons Range was first designated by the Federal Government as a ‘bombing, air gunnery and rocket firing range’ on July 13, 1949.