Burner Friday is upon us, FighterSweep Fans!  That means it is time for our weekly contribution to the FighterSweep afterburner photo album, and we hope you enjoy this one from the annals of Red Flag history, and courtesy of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF)!

For this week’s edition, we look back to February of 2009, when the RAAF sent an aarmory  of General Dynamics F-111C Aardvark fighter-bombers on their final trip to the United States as part of a detachment with No. 6 Squadron, where they participated in Red Flag 9-3.

The colorful and varied history of No. 6 Squadron begins in 1917, when the unit was formed in England as a flying training unit of the Australian Flying Corps.  The squadron was disbanded in 1919 after the end of WWI, but was re-established in 1939 flying reconnaissance patrols using Avro Anson aircraft.

RAAF F-111C A8-131 gets rolling on runway 3L during Red Flag 09-3 - the final deployment of F-111's in the US. (Photo by Curt Jans)
RAAF F-111C A8-131 gets rolling on runway 3L during Red Flag 09-3 – the final deployment of F-111’s in the US. (Photo by Curt Jans)

In 1940, No. 6 Squadron was reequipped with Lockheed Hudson light bombers and conducted long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-ship patrols during WWII.  The operational tempo and combat took their toll on the Hudsons, and by September 1943, the squadron converted to Bristol Beauforts.  Forward deployed to multiple airfields during WWII, the squadron returned to Australia following the end of combat and was disbanded again on October 31, 1945.

The squadron has been constantly active since 1948, when No. 23 Squadron was redesignated No. 6 Squadron.  No. 6 squadron was once again a flying training unit, flying Avro Lincoln heavy bombers until entering the jet age in 1955 with conversion to the Canberra.  The squadron then flew the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II during the early 1970s while awaiting transfer of General Dynamics F-111 Aardvarks from the US Air Force.

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By 1973, No. 6 Squadron became an operational conversion unit, flying multiple models of the F-111 for the next 37 years until retirement of the type by the RAAF in December of 2010.  From October of 2008 until the end, No. 6 Squadron was the sole and final operator of the Aardvark.

Today, No. 6 Squadron flies the Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet and is based at RAAF Amberley in Queensland, Australia–but that’s another story for another Burner Friday.

Hard to believe it’s been five years this month since the F-111C Aardvark stood down, and to this day, we miss seeing it streak across the sky with its signature “dump and burn.”  Happy Burner Friday, FighterSweep fans!

(Featured photo by Curt Jans)