End of an era for ‘Golf Ball’ Radome

Installed in 1989 by Selenia (Italy) and Ansett Technologies (Australia), the Alenia Radar, affectionately known to locals as the ‘Golf Ball’ was decommissioned on June 26, 2023. The radar provided coverage out to 200 nautical miles, and was used by Air Force Air Traffic Controllers located at RAAF Base East Sale, and Air Services Australia Air Traffic Controllers located at Tullamarine Airport, as part of the National Radar network for military and civilian aviation.

Golf Ball replaced by new air traffic surveillance system.

The radar, located on Murtnaugh Rd in Dutson was 15 metres in diameter and stood on an 18-metre high tower. Over its 34-year life span it was maintained by both Air Force and APS technicians from Number 453 Squadron, East Sale Flight. Current and former technicians, including Lindsay Dunt and David Rautman (pictured below), were there to shut down the radar as part of the decommissioning.

Current radar tech Lindsay Dunt and former radar tech David Rautman shut down the main power to radar.

The initial plan to lift and remove the radar as one piece quickly developed into a new plan as the radar was methodically broken down into manageable pieces over the course of several days in July, to be transported off-site. The ‘Golf Ball’ has been replaced by a Fixed Defence Air Traffic Control Surveillance System.

What’s on at Dutson Range

Dutson Training Area will be active (or has been active) during the periods listed below for Field Training Exercises. Some of these activities may involve demolition practices and, as such, explosions may be heard between the hours of 9am and 4pm each day. Public recreational usage of Lake Wellington will not be affected by these exercises. During the week of October 16-20, RAAF Explosive Ordnance Disposal personnel will be conducting a disposal of Defence Materiel. Several large explosions may be heard during this time.

  • Oct 3 – Survival Pyrotechnic Training;
  • Oct 5 – Explosive Ordnance Disposal Training;
  • Oct 6-8 – Military Skills Training including blank ammunition firing and pyrotechnics;
  • Oct 12-14 – Military Skills Training;
  • Oct 16-20 – Defence Materiel Logistic Disposal, and;
  • Oct 27-Nov 9 – Initial Officer Training including blank ammunition firing and pyrotechnics

Whilst RAAF personnel strive to inform the public of all activities conducted at Dutson Training Area, explosions may be heard outside of the dates listed above if dictated by operational requirements.

Warning to hunters

In the interest of public safety, notification is hereby given that access to DUTSON TRAINING AREA is PROHIBITED.

DUTSON TRAINING AREA is still an active weapons range, and presents a significant hazard to all persons within the range boundaries. The hazard not only exists during range activation for weapons exercises, but also during times of inactivity. This is due to the very high levels of Unexploded Explosive Ordnance on this range, some dating back to World War 2, much of which is in an unstable condition. Unmarked silted in bomb craters present another significant hazard.

You are reminded that it is an offence, under Section 89 and 89A of the Commonwealth Crimes Act to trespass on Defence land, and to discharge firearms on or over Commonwealth land. The DUTSON RANGE BOUNDARIES are depicted below. For further information contact Sergeant Nick Young on 0429 402 049.

Dutson Training Area Range Boundaries.

If you are interested in learning more about the role of RAAF Base East Sale, flying operations and flying areas, you can visit defence.gov.au/aircraftnoise/EastSale

This includes a link the RAAF East Sale Noise Management Plan. The Defence approach to noise mitigation and Air Force fly neighbourly policy can also be found through the ‘Understanding Noise’ site.

General information

Any enquiries relating to activities at RAAF Base, East Sale, should be directed to the Air Base Command Post on 5169 9892, or via email to esl.abcp@defence.gov.au