Pilatus PC-9 trainer aircraft deployed at RAAF Base Pearce.
No 130 Squadron of Republic Singapore Air Force based at the RAAF Base Pearce.
Republic of Singapore Air Force Chief Air Marshal Mark Binskin visits RAAF Base Pearce.

The Royal Australian Air Force Base Pearce (YPEA) is a military training base located 35km north-east of Perth in Western Australia. The base is used to train Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) pilots. It is busiest base in Australia, with highest air traffic including civil flights.

The base is also used to train pilots of the Republic of Singapore Air Force, a function it has carried out since 1993, and for launching NASA space shuttles.


The area, 35km north-east from Perth, was selected as the site for the base in 1928. Construction began in 1936 and the base was opened in February 1939. The mess facility was inaugurated at the base in September 1939. The YPEA established No 5 Initial Training School under the Empire Air Training Scheme during World War II.

The base was initially used for a variety of operations, but was dedicated to training roles after the arrival of No 1 Advanced Flying Training School and the Vampire jet trainer.

Design and Construction

The proposal to redevelop the RAAF Base Pearce was made in May 2007. In 2008, the Australian Department of Defence awarded a contract to John Holland to renovate the aged infrastructure and facilities while ensuring efficient pilot training.

“Stage 1 of the redevelopment began in October 2008 and is scheduled for completion by January 2011.”

Stage 1 of the redevelopment began in October 2008 and is scheduled for completion by January 2011. The scope of work under stage 1 includes construction and refurbishment of a fuel farm, engineering services, fuel quality centre, noise-attenuated engine run-up facility, training and operational facilities, air movements facility, a combined mess and live-in accommodation for cadet pilots.

Old and redundant facilities will be demolished, a defence restricted network will be installed, the existing passenger terminal will be refurbished and air cargo hangar facilities will be restored in this stage.

Stage 1 is estimated to cost around $142.2m (A$154m) including construction costs, furniture, fit-outs, equipment and contingencies.

Garrison Facilities

The base serves as headquarters for the No 79 Squadron, No 25 (City of Perth) Squadron, No 1 Airfield Defence Squadron Detachment Pearce, No 1 Airfield Operations Support Squadron Detachment Pearce, Combat Support Unit Pearce, No 2 Flying Training School, No 44 Wing Detachment Pearce, and No 130 Squadron.

The No 2 Flying Training School is located 50km north of Perth. The cadets of RAAF and Royal Australian Navy are trained and graduate at this school. A joint venture of Hames Sharley and Sinclair Knight Merz implements master planning, architectural and landscape design of training facilities on the base.

The Combat Support Unit Pearce commands, controls, supervises and operates the flying operations carried out at the YPEA.

“The YPEA has two asphalt surface runways and a concrete surface runway.”

Air Facilities

The YPEA has two asphalt surface runways (12/30 and 18L/36R) and a concrete surface runway (18R/36L). The length of the two asphalt surface runways is 1,691m and 2,439m respectively, and that of the concrete surface runway is 1,741m. The base also features a small RAAF Gin Gin airstrip used for pilot training. The YPEA can accommodate PC-9/A, BAE Hawk-127, and S-211 fighter trainer aircraft.

No 44 Wing Detachment Pearce is a part of the Surveillance and Response Group that manages 11 air traffic control stations across Australia. The wing renders air traffic control technical ground electronic services to the base, and radar control services to the Australian Defence Force. The control station monitors and identifies spy aircraft flying in Australian skies.

Other Facilities

The base offers pilot training, living accommodation, combined mess, rest rooms, sporting fields, cardiovascular training, dining facilities and medical care facilities.