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Final 23 Retired RAAF F-111s Buried in Landfill Site

The remaining 23 retired Royal Australian Air Force F-111 aircraft have all now been removed from RAAF Base Amberley, Queensland, and buried in a landfill site.


This still from an aeriel video of the RAAF F-111 burial operation shows that the aircraft are immediately being covered in earth once they have been placed in position on the landfill site. Thiess Services

DURING THE week of November 21-25, all 23 of the surviving Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) F-111 bombers that are not allocated for preservation, were buried in the Swanbank Landfill site near Ipswich, Queensland. The former coal mine, one of the largest landfill sites in Australia, taking 500,000 tonnes of waste each year, is operated by Thiess Services, which was contracted to undertake the F-111 project, one of its most unusual waste disposal contracts. The first two aircraft arrived at the site on Monday, November 21 and by the end of Thursday, November 24, all 23 aircraft were in the ground.
Thiess notes that many months of planning were required to undertake the task, which was necessary due to the requirement as part of the original contract between Australia and the US that the F-111s be securely disposed of. Thiess says that discussions about the disposal had begun around 18 months ago, with detailed planning being required to select and prepare the site.
The security offered by the Swanbank Landfill site was another major factor in Thiess gaining the contract. To ensure the site is marked as off-limits for future excavation, the precise GPS co-ordinates of each aircraft have been recorded and eventually the F-111s will rest deep under the ground beneath the mountain of landfill that will rise above them. When landfill is complete, soil will be placed over the top of the site, which will then be rehabilitated back to bushland.
The aircraft had previously been in open storage at RAAF Base Amberley, Queensland, where the type had finally been retired from RAAF service in December 2010. Amberley, on the west side of Ipswich, is only around 15 miles (24km) from the Swanbank Landfill site, located southeast of Ipswich, meaning only a fairly short road journey was necessary for each aircraft.
Because of the asbestos content in the aircraft, the Australian Defence Department had elected to bury the aircraft as a more economical method of disposal. This was seen as much more cost-effective than the much more expensive process of removing all of the asbestos that would be required if the aircraft were to be scrapped in the normal way.
Of the other surviving airframes, six have already been allocated for preservation at RAAF Bases, comprising two at RAAF Base Amberley, one at the RAAF Museum at Point Cook, Victoria; one at RAAF Base Edinburgh, South Australia; and one at RAAF Base Wagga Wagga, New South Wales. It was also announced on September 30, 2011, that a further seven F-111s are being made available to interested Australian aircraft museums and other historical organisations.

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Ian Whalley said on the 12-Jan-2011 at 23:17

Absolute sacrilege!

These aircraft should still be flying. Shame on the politicians who made this stupid decision.

Bury the politicians, not the aircraft.

At the very least, every single one of them should be preserved in a museum.

drabslab said on the 28-Nov-2011 at 11:59

What an enormous waste!

Is there really nothing better to do with all that high class metal these things are made of but put it in the ground?

Jason Watkins said on the 28-Nov-2011 at 14:38

Well, they are dead... Sad end.

Bob Baird said on the 16-Jan-2012 at 22:49

Hey they could have at least sent us a few back for our museums OB could pay for the fuel with one dinner!

Matt said on the 1-Dec-2012 at 17:16

WASTE! Atleast give them to a museum!

gary said on the 11-Sep-2013 at 00:31

Glad to say that we have one of your aircraft here
at the Pacific Aviation Museum in Hawaii. In fact
it is being put together at this very moment by a
team from Amberly.

Kyle K said on the 15-Jul-2016 at 02:50

Disgrace! Those beautiful aircraft should fly still. there is nothing wrong with them. Stupid Australian gov.

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