The Governor of South Australia Hieu Van Le had a flight in a PC-21 during his visit to RAAF Base Edinburgh on March 23 to mark the centenary of the Air Force.

The PC-21 is one of the Aircraft Research and Development unit’s (ARDU) newest aircraft based in South Australia and is regarded as the world’s most advanced pilot training aircraft.

It is ARDU’s primary aircraft for flight test operations, continuing RAAF Base Edinburgh’s and South Australia’s long history in aerospace trials and development.

Mr Van Le was able to experience the aircraft’s capabilities first-hand.

Before the flight, the Mr Van Le spoke about South Australia’s proud history with Australian military aviation.

“Today, I am greatly honoured to be commemorating 100 years of Air Force at RAAF Base Edinburgh,” Mr Van Le said.

“I was so pleased to find out that Sir Richard Williams, the first military-trained pilot in Australia and the Air Force’s first Chief of the Air Staff, widely regarded as the ‘Father’ of the RAAF, was born and raised in Moonta, South Australia.

“I feel very special today and I would like to acknowledge the 350,000 Australians who have served in the Royal Australian Air Force over the last 100 years.”

Commanding Officer ARDU Wing Commander Matthew Noblet spoke about his unit’s proud South Australian history.

“From humble beginnings in 1943, the Aircraft Research and Development Unit was established to support aircraft research in areas like aerodynamics, systems, performance, and weapons clearance,” Wing Commander Matthew Noblet said.

“Today, the unit is nested within the Air Warfare Centre, the go-to Defence organisation for air warfare advice, which enables Air Force to develop fifth-generation capability.

“Being based here in South Australia, it is a great privilege to command a unit with such deep history, and I am glad we have been able to share what we do with His Excellency the Honourable Hieu Van Le.”

South Australia is the hub for Air Force’s test and evaluation capability, with its historic industry ties, proximity to world-leading test ranges, and the co-location with the Defence Science and Technology Group.

ARDU continues to be an enabler for Defence through the provision of credible, independent and operationally relevant capability assessments of aircraft and aerospace systems. 

Governor of South Australia Hieu Van Le, right, with PC-21 pilot Squadron Leader Ludo Dierickx from the Aircraft Research and Development Unit. Photo: Leading Aircraftman Stewart Gould