RAAF and Airservices Australia re-design Military training area airspace

Department of Defence

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and Airservices Australia (Airservices) have redesigned Defence’s overland military flying training area airspace in north-western New South Wales to replace the existing R559 airspace north of Sydney.

Commander of Air Combat Group, Air Commodore Tim Alsop, said aircrew identified a need to redesign the RAAF Base Williamtown western military airspace as a result of specific training requirements for the F-35A Lightning II.

“RAAF and Airservices spent 18 months optimising the airspace to minimise impact on other airspace users,” AIRCDRE Alsop said.

“Following stakeholder consultation with industry operators, RAAF and Airservices embarked on an information and community engagement program in north-west NSW to outline the airspace design.

“Requirements for flight path planning for the new Western Sydney Airport, and the flight path design changes to RAAF Williamtown and Newcastle Airport offered an opportunity to redesign the western military airspace,” AIRCDRE Alsop said.

The proposed R570A/B/C/D airspace boundaries cover more than 32,000 square kilometres and extend from Carinda and Walgett to Bellata, Gilgandra, and Gunnedah.

The proposed new airspace R560A/B includes part of the old R559 airspace and binds areas including Mudgee and Scone to Gilgandra and Gunnedah, an area of more than 20,000 square kilometres.

“The new western military airspace will be managed in a dynamic manner. When the airspace is not being used, RAAF squadrons will release it for other users.”

“We expect to operate the F-35A for 30 years or more – therefore, the redesigned airspace needs to be a long-term solution,” AIRCDRE Alsop said.

F-35A aircraft currently operate at high altitudes in a southern portion of the proposed Western Airspace.

Most of the flying training will be conducted at altitudes well above 10,000 feet and has been designed to have minimal impact on other airspace users.

“Communities can expect to hear aircraft noise similar to commercial airlines as most training will be conducted at high altitude,” AIRCDRE Alsop said.

“There will be occasional low flying for specific training requirements, however this will be minimised and will not occur near towns, or farm buildings.”

The new airspace is planned to be implemented in June 2023.

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