Over here in the US we called it the “Aardvark,” but in Australia they called it the “Pig.” Regardless of the nickname, the type has finally flown its last operational mission. The Royal Australian Air Force officially retired F-111 at the beginning of December last year.
The F-111 holds a spot in aviation history as the first operational swing-wing combat aircraft. The aircraft suffered through a rocky start in the 1960s – born in a text-book case model of project mismanagement. Originally cast as an airframe that could fulfill a range of missions, the F-111 was built around conflicting requirements ranging from carrier-based interceptor to all-weather strike bomber. In the end, the former role was dropped and the F-111 became a rather capable deep strike aircraft – perhaps the most famous mission being the 1986 Libyan strikes.
The F-111C variant entered Australian service in 1973. They are replaced by F/A-18Fs.
The F/A-18F are said to be a short-term solution, with a variant of the F-35 Lightning II JSF in mind. But that’s another story…. let’s not go there…
Instead, enjoy this clip showing a RAAF F-111 taking down a NK drug runner-
At the airshows, the F-111 was always a crowd-pleaser. Unlike the USAF, the RAAF did the “dump and burn” maneuver.
So long, Aardvark.