No. 77 Squadron (77SQN) took to the skies on 5 July in an impressive ‘double seven’ formation to commemorate the unit's 77 years of operations.
Made up of 16 F/A-18A/B Hornets the formation toured over the communities surrounding RAAF Base Williamtown, home to the squadron for more than 60 years.
The formation is historically significant as it was last flown by the unit in 1955 as part of a ‘Welcome Home’ tour at the end of the Korean War as the squadron - then flying Gloster Meteor jet aircraft - had spent more than 11 years consecutively operating overseas.
Commanding Officer 77SQN, Wing Commander Jason Easthope said was proud to lead the formation and commemorate the squadron’s milestone.
“These type of activities play an important role in acknowledging the units proud history, upholding its rich Legacy and honouring the sacrifices our squadron has made,” he said.
“77SQN is a front line operational fighter squadron which has a rich history supported campaigns in the South Pacific, Korea, Malaysia, and most recently in Iraq.”
It is unlikely that the squadron will get the opportunity to fly the Hornet in this particular formation again with its transition to the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter occurring in 2020.
“We are nearing the end of an era, where in 18 months 77SQN will cease Hornet operations and transition to the F-35A.
“The Hornet has served Australia well over the years and this commemorative flypast is also part of acknowledging that.”
The Air Force fleet of F/A-18A/B Hornets is scheduled to be gradually replaced by the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter, with the final Hornets to be withdrawn from service in December 2021.