Ten Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18A/B ‘Classic’ Hornets from Number 2 Operational Conversion Unit (2OCU) based at RAAF Base Williamtown conducted their final flight under the unit’s banner.
CAPTION: No. 2 Operational Conversion Unit conducts a formation flight, in the shape of a number 2 over their hangar at RAAF Base Williamtown. Two photos by Corporal Melina Young – digitally merged by CONTACT
The historic flight acknowledged the conclusion of ‘Classic’ Hornet pilot conversion training and the end of an era.
Commanding officer 2OCU Wing Commander Scott Woodland said 2OCU’s final Classic Hornet mission was a fitting tribute to a significant milestone in RAAF history.
“2OCU’s critical role in preparing generations of Classic Hornet fighter aircrew with the skills and competency to engage in fighter combat has laid the very foundations of RAAF air power capability since the introduction of the platform in 1985,” Wing Commander Woodland said.
“Operational conversion has been at the cornerstone of the strength of the ‘Classic’ Hornet platforms’ contribution – taking graduate Hawk 127 Lead-in Fighter pilots, then testing and challenging them under the most gruelling conditions and toughest air-combat scenarios.
“The result has been the delivery of highly trained, focused personnel to frontline squadrons, performing with excellence at home and abroad on operations in defence of our national interests.”
With this historic flight closing a significant chapter in RAAF history, the future of fast-jet aircrew training at 2OCU is now established, with training focused on supporting the F-35A Lightning II.
“We welcome the commencement of the next phase of pilot conversion training for the F-35A,” Wing Commander Woodland said.
“This represents a fundamental shift for 2OCU – one we are fully equipped and ready to deliver – a superior war-fighting capability, supported by highly professional, highly skilled aircrew performing with strength and focus when called upon by government.”
The RAAF F/A-18A/B ‘Classic’ Hornet will be withdrawn from service in December 2021 with the fleet currently being replaced by the F-35A Lightning II.
There are currently 13 F-35A Lightning IIs in Australia, with another five based at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, USA, in the international pilot-training pool.