AVALON INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Australia (AFNS) --
A sea of spectators begins to stand, creating a wave effect; they’re there to watch a show—and that’s exactly what they’ll get. One by one they turn their phones to camera mode to capture one of the U.S. Air Force’s most lethal aircraft in its element.
The F-22 Raptor was one of the many aerial demonstrations for AVALON 23, the 2023 Australian International Aerospace & Defence Exposition and Airshow, Feb. 28 through March 5, where roughly 172,000 people attended over the course of six days.
At this year’s airshow the U.S. Department of Defense featured the B-52H Stratofortress, C-17 Globemaster III, M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, AH-64 Apache, F-22 Raptor, three different aircraft from the tanker fleet, a C-5M Super Galaxy, and many more.
“We were honored to participate in AVALON with an array of aerial and static displays,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Henry Schantz, AVALON 23 air boss. “This event isn’t just another airshow for us. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate our steadfast relationship with Australia, highlight the importance of our strategic partnerships in the Indo-Pacific, and showcase our coalition personnel and equipment for the 100-plus thousand people attending this event each day.”
AVALON 23 is the largest event of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, attracting aviation and aerospace professions, key defense personnel, aviation enthusiasts and the general public.
“International airshows are so important because it allows us to show solidarity to our partners and allies,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. George Fagan, F-22 Raptor Demo Team announcer. “Australia has been one of the longest standing allies to the United States and it’s awesome to work together to pull off a challenge like [an aerial demonstration]. Airshows are not inherently easy to execute; with personnel, equipment and aircraft moving from all over the world, but they provide great opportunities for nations to work together and overcome obstacles.”
From the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s Taiko Drum Team performing for hundreds of on-lookers in front of their Kawasaki C-2 Transport Aircraft, to the Republic of Korea Air Force’s Black Eagles aerobatic display, there was no shortage of static, and aerial displays of airpower to take in.
With its tail standing at 65 feet tall, the C-5 from Dover Air Force Base, Delaware stood as a beacon for attendees.
“People were generally amazed at the size of the aircraft and its capabilities,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Scott McCoy, C-5M Super Galaxy aircraft commander. “Our jet funneled everyone from the airshow to the Air Mobility Command display, so at least 90% of the attendees got to experience walking through the largest cargo plane in the Air Force inventory.”
The full list of U.S. aircraft and artillery displays at AVALON 23 included:
F-22 Raptors from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska
C-17 Globemaster III from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii
B-52H Stratofortress from Barksdale, Louisiana
F-15 Eagles from Kadena Air Base, Japan
C-5M Super Galaxy from Dover Air Force Base, Delaware
KC-135 Stratotanker from Sioux City, Iowa
KC-46 Pegasus from McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas
KC-10 Extender from Travis Air Force Base, California
AH-64 Apache from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington
UH-60 Black Hawk from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington
HIMARS from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington
This six-day event also falls in line with the second anniversary of the trilateral security partnership of Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, or AUKUS, which seeks to deepen and modernize relationships with two key allies, bolster international security, and promote a free and open Indo-Pacific.
The U.S. is committed to maintaining peace and stability in the region, and this event reaffirms the U.S. presence.
AVALON is held biennially and AVALON 23 is the 15th iteration, allowing generations of industry and defense representatives and tourists alike to experience the true power of partnerships, alliances, airpower and community.