Tools have been downed as No. 278 Squadron closed out its maintenance training support to Air Combat Group on December 17.

Established in 2003, No. 278 Squadron has trained thousands of Air Force technicians for the F-111C, Hornet, Hawk 127, PC-9/A, Super Hornet and the Growler at RAAF Bases Williamtown, Amberley, Pearce and Tindal.

Commanding Officer No. 278 Squadron Squadron Leader Philip Irvine said they were keen to mark the end of the era, but travel restrictions meant it was smaller than planned.

“We were unable to hold many of our planned commemorative activities in 2020, including our end of era dining in night,” Squadron Leader Irvine said.

“But we marked the occasion by preserving one of our building signs and had a unit morning tea to share our memories and reflect on our achievements.

“Despite the twin challenges of preparing to close a unit, and the restrictions of COVID-19 in the final year, members maintained the same high standards, and kept unit morale high – they have done a fantastic job and I personally am very proud of them all.”

Air Combat Group maintenance training will be delivered by No. 2 Operational Conversion Unit Integrated Training Centre at RAAF Base Williamtown and Headquarters Air Combat Group technical training flight at RAAF Base Amberley.

The squadron’s workforce included Air Force and APS members. APS team member and Computer Managed Instruction Manager David Carseldine was the only founding member to still be in the squadron as it marked its final day.

“I joined Air Force as an electrical fitter in 1984, and in 1996 as a sergeant, I was posted to No. 481 Squadron field training flight which became 278 Squadron technical training flight on 1 July 2003,” Mr Carseldine said.

“I was in charge of teams to transfer Hornet courseware to a new system being implemented at the time, but this system was not sustainable and I was approached by the officer-in-charge to investigate a new solution.

“I was offered an APS position when uniform positions were civilianised and took the offer, discharging in October 1998.”

Recently retired, Mr Carseldine said he was proud to support Air Combat Group’s maintenance training over the years.

“This was a significant event in my career with Air Force, we trained more than 37,000 students as many come through more than once,” Mr Carseldine said.

“After 37 years with Air Force and the Australian Public Service, and 25 years of those with field training flight and 278 Squadron, I’m looking forward to no early starts in retirement.”

No. 278 Squadron leaves behind a proud legacy of excellence in Air Combat Group’s technical training.