F-35A Flying Operations in Australia


Coffey & Department of Defence



Completion date


Future flying operations of the F-35A required environmental impact assessment and approval under the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act. The Guidelines for the EIS identified environmental noise impacts as one of the main considerations. Marshall Day Acoustics was engaged to conduct the detailed noise modelling and impact assessment for RAAF Base Williamtown (Newcastle Airport), RAAF Base Tindal, RAAF Base Darwin (Darwin International Airport) and RAAF Base Townsville (Townsville International Airport).

Scope of Services

Marshall Day Acoustics' work involved:

  • Establishing baseline noise levels for existing F/A-18A/B Hornet operations, based on noise modelling and analysis of flight paths, movement statistics and long term noise measurement data
  • Forecasting future F-35A noise levels at each base for a range of operating scenarios, including seasonal variations, routine training at air weapons ranges and international exercises
  • Assessing predicted noise impacts, having regard to issues such as community annoyance and land use impacts
  • Comprehensive noise impact assessment reporting for the main operating bases and key forward operating bases
  • Presentations at community and local government consultation events


As a Defence capability project of national strategic significance, the assessment of F-35A operations required a balance between the facilitation of essential resource upgrades and the effective management of adverse noise impacts.

Compared to the F/A-18A/B Hornet, the F-35A has a more powerful engine and, as a result, is capable of producing higher noise emissions than the F/A-18A/B Hornet when maximum thrust is used. Conversely, because the F-35A has been designed to carry its fuel and weapons internally rather than externally, the F-35A is able to perform a range of procedures with lower engine thrust and noise emissions than the F/A-18A/B Hornet.

A key challenge of the noise study was to deliver a highly technical and detailed assessment that addressed stringent federal government requirements, while communicating the study findings in a way that enabled a range of different stakeholders to make informed decisions about the project.


The flying operations of the F-35A subsequently received approval from the Department of the Environment on 10 July 2015. The first F-35A is due to arrive in Australia in 2018.

"The factor that differentiated their service was the ability to clearly communicate technical subjects in a way that enabled Defence to make informed decisions about the project. I would have no hesitation in recommending Marshall Day Acoustics."

Mick Brown, GPCAPT - Project Director in Service Support, Joint Strike Fighter Division, Department of Defence