US shows strong commitment at Avalon Airshow

An M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System gets loaded onto a C-5M Super Galaxy while spectators watch at the 2023 Australian International Airshow and Aerospace & Defence Exposition—AVALON 23—at Avalon International Airport, March 2, 2023. Our steadfast relationship with Australia, deeply rooted in our common principles and shared values, stems from working together day in and day out across the full spectrum of operations and will continue to prosper as we further integrate our efforts through events such as AVALON 23. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Hailey Haux)

The US Department of Defense (DoD) has used the latest edition of the biennial Australian International Aerospace & Defence Exposition and Airshow (Avalon 2023) to demonstrate its continued commitment to Australia, a strategic ally in the Indo-Pacific.

According to the DoD, approximately 300 personnel and over 10 US military assets drawn from the United States Air Force (USAF) and Army were deployed to support the event. These included combat platforms such as the B-52H Stratofortress strategic bomber, F-22 Raptor fifth-generation tactical fighter, and F-15 Eagle multirole strike aircraft.

Other assets included mobility and sustainment platforms such as the C-5M Super Galaxy, C-17 Globemaster as well as the KC-10 Extender, KC-46 Pegasus, and KC-135 Stratotanker air refuelling and cargo aircraft.

The DoD capability showcase also included Army assets such as the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter, UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopter, and the wheeled M142 Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS).

“We were honoured to participate in [Avalon 2023] with an array of aerial and static displays,” USAF Colonel Henry Schantz told media.

“This event isn’t just another airshow for us,” added Colonel Schantz. “It’s an opportunity to demonstrate our steadfast relationship with Australia, highlight the importance of our strategic partnerships in the Indo-Pacific, and showcase our coalition personnel and equipment for the 100-plus thousand people attending this event each day.”

The USAF separately announced that it awarded Boeing a contract worth up to US$1.2 billion to commence production of first E-7A aircraft with the aim of fielding a fleet of 26 of these battle management and command-and-control platforms. The first aircraft is expected to be fielded by fiscal year 2027.

Also known as the Wedgetail, the E-7 is originally developed for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

Other allied and like-minded countries were also at Avalon 2023 with some of their most capable assets, such as the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF)’s C-2 transport aircraft, as well as the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF)’s T-50 lead-in fighter trainer operated by its famous Black Eagles aerobatic team.

by Jr Ng