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Upgrading the guard at RAAF Base Darwin
Some of RAAF Base Darwin’s longest-term residents are about to undergo a makeover.
Two Bloodhound missiles standing guard outside RAAF Darwin and a Mirage fighter jet at the base memorial garden will be repaired and repainted over the next ten weeks.
The Bloodhound missiles will be fenced off during the refurbishment, while the Mirage... jet will be towed to an enclosed working space on base for repair and repainting. One Mirage jet tail fin on base will also be restored.
Wing Commander Robert Graham, Commanding Officer of No 13 (City of Darwin) Squadron said the restoration project had been a long time coming.
“Preservation of military history is very important to Defence and Air Force, particularly,” Wing Commander Graham said.
“The Bloodhounds have been gate guards now for more than three decades. They’re very tired and they need a bit of care.”
Bloodhound missiles were tested at the Woomera range in the 1950s and served with the RAAF at Williamtown in NSW from 1961 until 1968, with a detachment at Darwin from 1965. When the missiles were removed from service, Darwin was one of the sites selected to place them as gate guards.
Mirage fighters were in service from 1963 to 1988 and frequently staged through Darwin for exercises, and were based in the Top End from 1983 to 1988.
The restoration will be undertaken by Air Force members from RAAF Base Amberley in Queensland and from RAAF Base Tindal, near Katherine.
The officer in charge of the Static Display Aircraft Support Section, Squadron Leader Stephen Currie, said his 15-strong member team were looking forward to the challenge of restoring the Mirage.
“We have to lift the aircraft from its current position, and then tow it across the airstrip,” Squadron Leader Currie said.
“We’re going to sand the aircraft back to bare metal, and then it will be primed and we’ll paint it in the original squadron colours when it finished its operational service.”
“These historical assets are a reminder of the RAAF’s long association with the Northern Territory and we are acting now to ensure they’re here for generations to come,” Squadron Leader Currie said.
Access to the Bloodhound missiles and Mirage will be restricted during the restoration process and they will return to public display after the project’s scheduled completion around September 29.
The Air Force maintains heritage displays at RAAF bases across Australia. The aircraft and other assets chosen represent Air Force tradition and history.
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