RAAF Aircraft Research & Development Unit (ARDU) 75th Anniversary

A PC-9/A aircraft (rear) currently used by the Royal Australian Air Force Aircraft Research and Development Unit flies in formation with former Unit aircraft, the F/A-18 Hornet, and Douglas Dakota which is now owned and maintained by the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society based at Albion Park, New South Wales. (Photo by CPL Craig Barrett © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)

The Aircraft Research and Development Unit (ARDU) will celebrate 75 years of continuous service on December 1st, 2018. Since the establishment of No.1 Aircraft Performance Unit at RAAF Laverton in December 1943, ARDU has pioneered flight test in the  Australian Defense Force. Today, ARDU continues this legacy as an integral unit of the Test and Evaluation Directorate, Air Warfare Center.

Former Aircraft Research and Development Unit aircraft, the F/A-18 Hornet (foreground) and a Douglas Dakota fly in formation during a photoshoot near Nowra in New South Wales. (Photo by CPL Craig Barrett © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence )
The Aircraft Research and Development Unit (ARDU) will celebrate 75 years of continuous service on December 1st, 2018. Since the establishment of No.1 Aircraft Performance Unit at RAAF Laverton in December 1943, ARDU has pioneered flight test in the  Australian Defense Force. Today, ARDU continues this legacy as an integral unit of the Test and Evaluation Directorate, Air Warfare Center.

The RAAF Aircraft Research & Development Unit – ARDU – is commemorating the 75th anniversary of its establishment with a series of social and formal events in Adelaide in November and December. ARDU was formed as No 1 Aircraft Performance Unit at RAAF Laverton near Melbourne on December 1st, 1943 with a mission to conduct flight trials of locally-built, Allied and captured enemy aircraft. No.1 APU also performed flight trials of aircraft modifications and ancillary equipment, the evolution of tactical methods of employing aircraft and equipment, and co-operation with government departments, manufacturers and scientific research institutions. In September 1947, the unit had a name change, becoming ARDU as we know it today. ARDU later relocated to RAAF Base Edinburgh in 1977.

In 2005, a reorganization of Australia’s military saw ARDU became part of the Development and Test Wing (DTWG), with ARDU retaining responsibility for Army and Air Force developmental flight test as a subordinate squadron. Then, in January 2016, ARDU experienced further reorganization within the Air Warfare Centre (AWC) under Plan Jericho. This led to the disbandment of Army elements, leaving only RAAF members within ARDU.

Some of the unit’s early trials included performance testing of the Spitfire Mk VIII, Ventura take off tests, Boomerang roll rate testing, and installation of wing guns on the Wirraway. Additionally, testing was performed on captured Japanese ‘Oscar’ and ‘Tony’ fighter aircraft for performance characterization and counter-tactic development.

To commemorate ARDU’s 75th anniversary, on October 23rd the RAAF conducted a formation flight over the south coast of New South Wales which included former ARDU McDonnell-Douglas F/A-18B Hornet A21-101 (the RAAF’s first example), a former ARDU Douglas C-47 Dakota (now belonging to the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society), and a current ARDU Pilatus PC-9/A with commemorative tail markings.

A PC-9/A aircraft (foreground) currently used by the Royal Australian Air Force Aircraft Research and Development Unit flies in formation with former Unit aircraft, the F/A-18 Hornet, and Douglas Dakota which is now owned and maintained by the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society based at Albion Park, New South Wales. (Photo CPL Craig Barrett © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)

For more information on ARDU 75th anniversary events, please visit http://www.ardu75th.com.

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