Tactical Aviation Fixed Wing

Qantas Airways used to have a military division

Qantas Airways Limited, better known as Qantas, is the flag carrier of Australia and the country's largest airline.
Miguel Ortiz Avatar
qantas airways


Qantas Airways Limited, better known as Qantas, is the flag carrier of Australia and the country’s largest airline. An acronym for the airline’s original name, Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services, Qantas is easily recognized around the world for its kangaroo logo. The airline operates and maintains hundreds of commercial aircraft carrying both freight and passengers. However, it used to provide support to the Royal Australian Air Force as well.

RAAF C-130H qantas airways
RAAF C-130Hs undergo maintenance by QDS (QDS)

Started in 1999, Qantas Defence Services was a wholly-owned subsidiary of Qantas. With its extensive aircraft maintenance knowledge and facilities, QDS provided maintenance for the RAAF’s Lockheed C-130 Hercules cargo planes and AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft. Specifically, the company repaired, overhauled and provided engineering support for the T-56 turboprop engine that powers the Hercules and Orion. QDS provided the same services for the Rolls-Royce Turbomeca Adour Mk 871-05 turbofan engines that power the RAAF’s BAE Hawk trainer jets and the P&W R2000-7M2 engines on de Havilland Canada DHC-4 Caribou cargo planes.

Royal Australian Air Force plane
QDS leased and maintained Boeing Business Jets (QDS)

QDS also worked with Airbus to replace the Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker with the KC-30A Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport in RAAF service. Qantas operates dozens of A330 variants and is intricately familiar with the aircraft. Support was also provided to the RAAF for the Boeing 737 Airborne Early Warning and Control Wedgetail aircraft. Finally, QDS leased two Boeing Business Jets to the RAAF to serve as executive transport to the Australian Prime Minister. Maintenance on both aircraft was also provided by QDS. Outside of Australia, QDS was awarded a contract by the Indonesian government to provide maintenance and crew training on their C-130s.

The KC-30A aerial tanker is based on the Airbus A330 airliner (RAAF)

In August 2013, QDS was sold by Qantas to Northrop Grumman Australia for $80 million AUD. The sale included the entirety of Qantas’ defense business as well as related assets. “Qantas has a long and proud history of supporting the Australian Government and Australian Defence Force in times of need, including most recently with emergency relief flights from Cairo during political unrest in 2011 and from Christchurch following the devastating Earthquake,” said Qantas Group chief executive officer Alan Joyce in a company media release. “Qantas and Northrop Grumman will work closely over the coming months to work towards satisfaction of a number of conditions related to the separation of QDS from Qantas, which must be met to facilitate completion of the sale.”