38 Sqn set to disband in December
13 November 2018
By Nigel Pittaway
Defence has confirmed that the RAAF’s No.38 Squadron, currently flying the Beechcraft King Air 350 from Townsville, will disband on 14 December.
During the course of the year, four of the squadron’s eight King Airs were transferred to No.32 Sqn at East Sale and a further four aircraft will be transferred in December 2018 with the disbandment of 38 Sqn.
Defence says that from 2019, 32 Sqn will operate a fleet of 12 King Air 350s, all equipped with the Rockwell Collins Proline 21 avionics suite. Eight of these are the ex-38 Sqn aircraft and the other four are newly manufactured examples which will be leased from Hawker Pacific.
The four new aircraft are already in Australia and are currently undergoing modification to the Mission Aircrew and Aviation Warfare Officer (AvWO) training role. They are presently on the Australian Civil Aviation Register (ACAR) as VH-KQF (msn FL-988), VH-KQG (FL-1003), VH-KQD (FL-1008) and VH-KQE (FL-1021) but are expected to be placed on the national register in coming months.
The eight King Air 350s previously operated by 32 Sqn are all configured with the earlier Proline 2 cockpit and will be returned to Hawker Pacific. Four of these (A32-343, 346, 349 and 351) have already left RAAF service and have been registered to Commuter Air Technology of Oklahoma City in the United States.
According to a Defence spokesperson, 32 Sqn will continue to conduct its existing roles in support of No. 1 Flying Training School (Mission Aircrew and AvWO training), as well as Air Logistics Support.
“No. 32 Squadron will also take over the following roles from No. 38 Squadron,” the spokesperson said: “Imagery Acquisition, Base Station Relay and Intelligence Surveillance Targeting Acquisition Reconnaissance (ISTAR).”
These roles are currently undertaken by three ‘600 Series’ King Airs which have been extensively modified for the ISTAR role by Hawker Pacific under Air Force Minor Project (AFM) 01037. The three aircraft are now permanently configured in this role and are tasked by Air Mobility Control Centre in support of Special Operations Command.
Defence says the planned review date for the King Air 350 fleet is 2024.