F/A-18A/B Hornet

The F/A-18A (single seat) and F/A-18B (twin seat) Hornets are multi-role fighter aircraft, capable of air-to-air and air-to-ground missions. They are an integral part of Australia's air combat capability.

Based at RAAF Base Williamtown and RAAF Base Tindal, the 71 F/A-18A/B Hornets are operated by:

  • Number 3 Squadron, RAAF Base Williamtown;
  • Number 75 Squadron, RAAF Base Tindal;
  • Number 77 Squadron, RAAF Base Williamtown; and
  • Number 2 Operational Conversion Unit, RAAF Base Williamtown for pilot training.

In the last two years, the Hornets have participated in a range of exercises including Exercise Bersama Lima and Exercise Bersama Shield in Malaysia, Exercise Red Flag in Alaska, and Exercise Pitch Black in the Northern Territory.

The fleet has undergone a major electronic upgrade to ensure effective operations for the next 10 years. Air Force's 71 F/A-18A/B Hornets will be replaced with 72 advanced F-35A Lightning II aircraft from 2018.

About the Aircraft

The Hornet was developed for the US Navy and Marine Corps, and has been a very successful aircraft. It is also used by Canada, Finland, Kuwait, Malaysia, Spain and Switzerland.

The F/A-18A and F/A-18B Hornets can undertake:

  • air interception;
  • air combat;
  • close air support of ground troops; and
  • interception of enemy supply lines including shipping.

The Hornet is also capable of air-to-air refuelling from the KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport.


Manufacturer Boeing (originally McDonnell-Douglas)
Role Multi-role fighter
Crew Pilot
Engine Two low-bypass F404-GE-400 turbofans (7,258kg thrust each)
Airframe Length: 17.1 m, height: 4.7 m
Wingspan 12.4 m
Weight 10,660 kg basic, 20,412 kg maximum
Speed Mach 1.8 (2,200km/h)
  • Ferrying 2,700 km (without refuelling)
  • Interdiction over 1,000 km
  • Combat radius 740 km
Ceiling Above 45,000 feet
  • AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM)
  • AIM-132 Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM)
  • Practice, Conventional and Laser-Guided Bombs
  • Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) and Laser JDAM
  • AGM-158 Joint Air-To-Surface Stand-Off Missile (JASSM)
  • M61 Nose-Mounted 20mm Cannon
  • Mission computers
  • Helmet Mounted Cueing System
  • Heads-up Displays
  • Radar and Infrared Sensing and Targeting Systems
  • Electronic Warfare and Infra-Red Self Protection Systems