Australia retires F/A-18A/B "Classic" Hornet fighters after 36 years of service


RAAF F/A-18A Hornet in commemorative paint scheme prior to the formal retirement of the type.

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has formally retired its remaining fleet of Boeing F/A-18A/B "Classic" Hornet twin-engine fighter aircraft last 29 November 2021, after 36 years of service as Australia's main combat aircraft.

The ceremony to mark the farewell was held at RAAF Base Williamtown in New South Wales, with the event attended by the Australian Minister of Defence Peter Dutton, the Chief of the Air Force Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld, and several various aviators and industry partners involved in the RAAF's F/A-18A/B fleet.

F/A-18A/B fighter aircraft from the No. 75 Squadron, based at RAAF Base Tindal in the Northern Territory, were present and provided overhead flights.

The unit is the last Classic Hornet squadron to shift to the new Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter starting in 2022.

Air Marshall Hupfeld, himself a former F/A-18A/B Classic Hornet pilot, stated that the Classic Hornet has reached almost a combined 408,000 total flying hours, and is time to be replaced with a more lethal and survivable fighter like the F-35A Lightning II.

The RAAF selected then McDonnel Douglas F/A-18A/B Hornet over the then General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon as a replacement for its ageing Mirage III fighter, making Australia one of the first export market for the Hornet.

57 single-seat F/A-18A and 18 two-seat F/A-18B aircraft were delivered to the RAAF under a US$2.788 billion contract, with the Government Aircraft Factory (GAF) based in Avalon in Victoria assembling all but two aircraft.

The RAAF's No. 3, 75, and 77 Squadrons, as well as the No. 2 Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) received the aircraft. Except for No.75 Squadron which is based at RAAF Base Tindal in Northern Territory, all others were based in RAAF Base Williamtown in New South Wales.

The RAAF also operate the newer and larger F/A-18F Super Hornet, which replaced the F-111 Aardvark, as well as the EA-18G Growler electronic warfare attack aircraft.

Both aircraft will be operated by the RAAF in the long term and will complement the F-35A Lightning II.

[1] Australian Aviation
[2] The Drive - The Warzone
[3] Air Force Technology

Australia retires F/A-18A/B "Classic" Hornet fighters after 36 years of service Australia retires F/A-18A/B "Classic" Hornet fighters after 36 years of service Reviewed by Asia Pacific Defense Journal on December 06, 2021 Rating: 5

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