December 5, 2008: An Air Force base in northern Australia is
overrun by wallabies. These critters, that look like miniature kangaroos (whom
they are related to), weigh ten to twenty pounds. But if struck by Australian
F-18 fighters on takeoff, or landing, damage, or disaster, can ensue. There
have been two recent collisions. One F-18 was taken out of service for a short
time so repairs could be made, the other aircraft suffered no significant
The wallaby infestation is particularly
dangerous at night, when herds (dozens) of wallabies wander onto the airstrip.
So far, fences and efforts to shoo the critters away have not solved the
problem. A new "wallaby management plan" is in the works, which will
employ a wide range of methods, including killing the little beasts, in an attempt
to make night time flight operations less risky for the aircraft (and surviving
Bird strikes are actually more widespread problem. There are about 5,000
incidents a year. These often just mean replacing windows or canopies, or
wherever the bird hit. But from time-to-time the damage is severe, and some aircraft have been lost.
Naturally, critters that can't fly are, technically, easier to control. But not
always, as in the case of the wallabies.