As Exercise Diamond Storm 2019 draws to a close, No. 2 Operational Conversion Unit (2OCU) will fly their last Air Warfare Instructor Course (AWIC) mission operating the F/A-18A/B “Classic” Hornet.
Developed from the Fighter Combat Instructor (FCI) Course, AWIC was redeveloped in 2017 as an innovative course aimed at preparing personnel to operate fifth-generation platforms in a joint, integrated combat environment.
This contemporary training was launched ahead of the arrival of Air Force’s first two F-35A Joint Strike Fighters in December 2018.
Although this is the final AWIC for 2OCU Hornets, AWIC 2021 will still include F/A-18A/B Hornets flown by No. 75 Squadron.
Having operated the F/A-18A/B Hornet since 1984, 2OCU will retire the aircraft at the end of the year and begin the transition to the F-35A in early 2020.
Commanding Officer 2OCU, Wing Commander (WGCDR) Scott Woodland said over the last 35 years the Hornet has served the unit well, and the final flight would be a bittersweet moment.
“Having worked in Air Combat Group for a large part of my career, I have seen the evolution from where we started with the Hornet to where we have ended up, and the progression has been remarkable,” WGCDR Woodland said.
“It’s not just about the capability of the jet, but also the development of the whole team from aircrew to support crew, we have become an effective and efficient force that is set up well for the future.
“It is sad to see the Hornet retire but it’s also an exciting time as we transition to the F-35A and beyond evolving into that next generation fighting force,” WGCDR Woodland said.
2OCU has a significant six months ahead with the last Hornet Operational Conversion course to take place from July. The year will draw to a close with the final flight for the 2OCU Classic Hornet, marking the end of a significant era for the squadron.