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)|
|Engine||Two low-bypass F404-GE-400 turbofans (7,258kg thrust each)|
|Airframe||Length: 17.1 m, height: 4.7 m|
|Weight||10,660 kg basic, 20,412 kg maximum|
|Speed||Mach 1.8 (2,200km/h)|
|Ceiling||Above 45,000 feet|