Yacht sails into air forces' firing line
Update 3.15pm: IT'S understood contact has been made with a boat that remains within an air force weapons range exclusion zone, but it was yet to relocate.
F/A-18F Super Hornet aircraft carrying live ordinances were attempting to complete training runs at the Evans Head Air Weapons Range, but operations continue to be interrupted by boats moving into the exclusion zone.
Original story: A SINGLE white yacht enjoying a leisurely sail north of Evans Head has stalled an air force training operation.
A Royal Australian Air Force spokesman said operational training was under way at the Evans Head Air Weapons Range including live weapons training, but three boats had failed to heed restricted access to the area.
He said two fishing boats remained in the safety trace, the area of exclusion off shore, from 8am until midday today, bringing a halt to operations.
He said there was currently a white yacht tracking through the safety trace very slowly.
The air force spokesman said two jets were waiting to conduct their training exercises, but all attempts to contact people on the yacht had failed, even a fly over by the jets failing to raise alarm.
The spokesman said public notices were posted well in advance of the event and it was frustrating the warnings were ignored.
He said flying jets was expensive and the delay was costly.
The spokesman said training was essential for the crews' careers, but even more so in the event they were called to do their jobs.
Royal Australian Air Force Base Amberley F/A-18F Super Hornet aircraft were due to conduct operational training at Evans Head Air Weapons Range from June 11 - to June 19, and for safety reasons, the Southern DPA (overwater) was closed from 10am to 5pm during these times.
They were due to conduct 20mm air to ground strafing and dry application bombing throughout the week. Dry strafe runs were planned for the morning and live runs in the afternoon waves between 1pm and 4pm.
Aircrew were also conducting low level flying during each mission within the range airspace as usual.
Local residents were advised access to the range (land areas) remains restricted regardless of any activities being conducted. This was due to the historical use of range and the possibility of unexploded ordnance remaining at the site.
The Evans Head Evans Head Air Weapons Range Community Advisory Panel was advised of these activities.
Defence personnel display Red Flags whenever live firing activities are conducted and carry out patrols to ensure people don't stray into the area.
For further information and a copy of the overwater DPA map and GPS co-ordinates please refer to the Defence website at http://www.defence.gov.au/aircraftnoise; and go to Ops Near Me and then go to the Evans Head tab.