The last F/A-18A/B Hornets to undergo deeper maintenance servicing have rolled out of the Boeing Defence Australia facility at RAAF Base Williamtown.
FILE PHOTO: A RAAF F/A-18A over Victoria. Photo by Brian Hartigan.
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said 150 jobs in the Hunter region had been supported through this important work.
“This was the 163rd and final deeper maintenance servicing for the Air Force ‘classic’ Hornet fleet since 2013,” Minister Price said.
“These operations have generated an additional 140,000 flying hours for the ‘classic’ Hornets and also contributed $200 million to the Australian economy.”
Deeper maintenance servicing on the F/A-18A/B will no longer be required as the capability is progressively replaced by the F-35A Lightning II aircraft and the aircraft are sold to either Canada or an Air USA, with significant doubt over the availability of aircraft for heritage collections.
“To secure these local Hunter jobs, Boeing will continue to provide logistics, engineering and maintenance support through to the planned withdrawal date of December 2021,” Minister Price said.
“Boeing will also assist Defence to prepare retired ‘classic’ Hornet aircraft for heritage display [see doubt here] within Australia and potential [it can hardly be called ‘potential’ if the the sales are already announced] sale to foreign customers.
“This continued effort will assist in retaining a highly skilled Hunter region aviation workforce until there is a requirement for F-35A Lightning II sustainment which will also be based at RAAF Base Williamtown.”
Minister Price said the ‘fleet of 75’* ‘classic’ Hornet aircraft were introduced into service in 1985 and will have seen 36 years’ service by the planned withdrawal in December 2021.
Interestingly, the RAAF web site says it currently owns just 47 ‘classic’ Hornets – and Wikipedia says four of the original 75 were destroyed in flying accidents during the late 1980s and early 1990s – meaning ‘the fleet’ is only 71, all of which have been flagged for foreign sale.