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RAAF Women (Incl Kiwi) Graduate To Fast Jets

MEDIA RELEASE

Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence, Bruce Scott

MIN 27/2000 Friday, February 18, 2000

RAAF WOMEN GRADUATE TO FAST JETS

The Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence, Bruce Scott, said today two women had completed an intensive training course to become the first female officers in the Royal Australian Air Force to graduate to fast jets.

Flying Officer Brooke Chivers and Pilot Officer Aroha Fifield have earned their brevets as navigators in the RAAF's frontline F-111 squadrons at the Amberley base near Ipswich in south-east Queensland.

Mr Scott said the women's graduation as F-111 navigators signalled a major milestone for the RAAF and the opportunities now available to females in today's modern Defence Force.

He said the two women should be very proud of their status within the RAAF's aircrews as fast jet training was the most difficult in military aviation.

"Flying Officer Chivers, Pilot Officer Fifield and their four male colleagues from this latest F-111 conversion course face a major responsibility flying the F-111 strike aircraft and join a dedicated and professional team at Amberley which fly, maintain and support these high-tech aircraft," he said.

"This milestone illustrates the many opportunities available to women in the Australian Defence Force and their increasingly important contribution to the Services.

"In fact, only a few months ago another woman, Air Commodore Julie Hammer, became the first female officer to be promoted to an air rank in the history of the RAAF and a one star general in the ADF."

Mr Scott said although the ADF had had female pilots and navigators for several years, this was the first time women had joined what is termed the 'fast jet' stream of military aviation in the ADF.

He said more women were showing interest in a flying career with the Defence Force and there were now about 25 female pilots and navigators in the ADF with another dozen in training.

The RAAF has 17 female pilots and navigators, including one working as a test pilot in the United States and another flying with the Roulettes aerobatic team. The RAAF women work on a variety of aircraft including the C-130 Hercules and P-3 Orions. The Army has seven female helicopter pilots and the Navy has four female flight crew including one helicopter pilot.

Today's F-111 graduates, two pilots and four navigators, were the focus of attention at the Amberley base this morning. The pilots are Flight Lieutenant Justin O'Brien of Melbourne and Flying Officer Dominic Walker of Brisbane. The navigators are Flying Officer Brooke Chivers of Newcastle, Pilot Officer Aroha Fifield, originally of New Zealand, and their two male colleagues, Flying Officers Richard Drum of Albury and Shannon Kennedy of Sydney.

NEWS EDITORS Vision and photographs are available from the Director Defence Public Affairs Queensland, Rob Care-Wickham on Ph 07-3233 4353 or 0407 113518.

FURTHER INFORMATION Ministerial, Mark Croxford Ph 02-6277 7820 or 0401 145787 Departmental, Richard Hogan Ph 02-6265 2913 or 0419 621753


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