- Air Bases
- More Information
The Australian Bureau of Customs began using aircraft ad-hoc in the 1970s to monitor Vietnamese boat people. In 1980 a formal contract was placed with HC Sleigh Aviation for a full-time coastal surveillance service along the eastern part of the north coast of Australia. In 1982 the Bureau of Customs became the Australian Customs Service. In 1983 Skywest Aviation brought HC Sleigh Aviation, and used its experience to win a coastal surveillance contract for the north western coast.
During 1987 Amann Aviation won a new contract to cover the whole of the north coast from 1989, replacing Skywest Aviation. Unfortunately, Amann was unable to obtain the necessary number of aircraft and was deemed to have defaulted on the contract. Skywest’s contract was extended to maintain the service. In August 1988 the land, sea and air parts of the Australian Coastal Surveillance Organisation were renamed Coastwatch and transferred to the Australian Customs Service. The Coastwatch organisation now assumed the role of co-ordinating all civil maritime surveillance activities on behalf of the Government. In 1990 helicopters were introduced to fill a perceived gap in the service.
In 1994 National Jet Systems subsidiary Surveillance Australia was awarded a new contract to provide all the fixed-wing airborne surveillance capability for Coastwatch. In 2005 Surveillance Australia’s contract was renewed for a further 15 years.
|1980||Customs places coastal surveillance contract with HC Sleigh Aviation for north east coast.|
|1983||Skywest Aviation buys HC Sleigh Aviation.|
|1983||Customs place coastal surveillance contract with Skywest Aviation for north west coast.|
|1987||Amann Aviation wins new Customs contract for entire north coast.|
|1987||Amann Aviation defaults on contract, which is then placed with Skywest.|
|August 1988||Coastal Surveillance rebranded as Coastwatch.|
|1990||Torres Strait helicopter introduced.|
|1994||National Jet Systems subsidiary Surveillance Australia wins new fixed-wing contract.|
|2005||Surveillance Australia wins a further 15 year contract.|
The aircraft of Coastwatch are fully operational.
No information available.
Coastwatch aircraft originally operated in a white overall colour scheme with green-white-yellow fuselage and fin stripes. The service titles COASTWATCH were carried on the rear fuselage. Since about 1994 a switch was made to an overall white scheme with a red fuselage stripe and an all-red fin and rudder. The service titles CUSTOMS are now carried.
Aircraft Serial Numbers
Coastwatch aircraft carry standard Australian civil aircraft registrations, e.g. DHC-8 VH-ZZA.
Coding system not used.
None – Manufacturers designations used
Current Aircraft Inventory
|Aircraft Type||Total Del’d||Total Active||Still on Order||Role|
|Bell 206L LongRanger IV||1||1||0||Coastal Patrol|
|Bell 412EP||1||1||0||Coastal Patrol|
|De Havilland Canada DHC-8 srs 200||7||7||0||Coastal Patrol|
|De Havilland Canada DHC-8 srs 200||4||4||0||Coastal Patrol|
|Eurocopter EC145||1||1||0||Coastal Patrol|
All-Time Aircraft Used List
|Aircraft Type||Quantity||Service Entry||Out of Service||Origin|
|Aero Commander 500 Shrike Commander||1||?||?||contractor|
|Aerospatiale AS350B3 Squirrel||1||2007||?||contractor|
|Bell 206L LongRanger IV||1||?||current||contractor|
|Britten-Norman BN-2B Islander||6||1995||1996||contractor|
|Cessna F406 Caravan II||3||1995||1996||contractor|
|De Havilland Canada DHC-8 srs 200||7||1994||current||contractor|
|De Havilland Canada DHC-8 srs 300||4||1994||current||contractor|
|GAF N22 Nomad||3||?||?||contractor|
|IAI 1124N Westwind SeaScan||3||?||?||contractor|
Aircraft NOT Used
No false reports known.
Aircraft Losses and Incidents
Coastwatch, Border Protection Command, Canberra, ACT, Australia.
There are no sub-units to the Coastwatch service. Aircraft are allocated to various bases as detailed below.
Current Unit Assignments
Historical Unit Assignments
To be added.
All-Time Flying Units List
Current Air Bases
Coastwatch aircraft operate from Cairns and Horn Island (both QLD), Darwin (NT) and Broome (WA).
All-Time Air Bases Used List
To be added.
To be added
To be added