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Okra increases Air Force flying rates

written by australianaviation.com.au | May 4, 2016
A RAAF classic Hornet refuels from a KC-30 during an Operation Okra mission. (Defence)

The call on the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) to support an Air Task Group deployment to the Middle East over the financial years 2015-16 to 2016-17 is having a major impact on forecast flying hours set by Defence for normal operations, the Defence Portfolio Budget Statements (PBS) for 2016-17 show.

While C-17 Globemaster transports in 2015-16 flew roughly 1,000 more hours than their normal 6,200 hours allocation, the KC-30A MRTT tanker fleet flew roughly twice as many hours as the 3,100 hours budgeted for 2016-17, the PBS released on Tuesday with the federal government’s budget for 2016-17  details.

F/A-18A/B Hornets flew 15,700 hours in 2015-16 compared to their regular annual allocation of 12,000 hours, while F/A-18F Super Hornets flew 800 more hours than their regular 4,000-hour allocation.

E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft flew their full allocation of 3,600 hours in 2015-16, and are projected to sustain this rate of effort through to the end of the Forward Estimates.

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Comments (6)

  • Matthew


    Are the hours above for individual plane /types or for overall hours for type of planes.
    The reason for the question is, let’s say some type of earth moving equipment could do 30 ish hrs a week multiply that by say 38 weeks in a 1 year period equals 1140 hrs.. I hope our defence force aviators are at least getting half of the hours from calculations above.

  • mick181


    Mathew that would be the hours for the entire fleet so the average for each classic Hornet would be 221 hours, the Supers 200 per ac. The C-17s are 900 hours per Ac but that includes new ac delivered during that time so the first 6 would be much higher than the last 2.

  • MikeofPerth


    Isn’t the RAAF planning to start the gradual retirement of the classic hornet fleet next year or is that 2018? How will this affect the RAAF’s ability to contribute to Operation Okra, as their will be less airframes available to rotate to the Middle East and spread flight/combat hours over until at least the planned IOC of the F-35 in 2021?

  • Jason


    Let’s hope Okra isn’t still going by 2018, let alone 2021! But if it is, I suspect the Super Hornets will take on more of the burden.

    It’s worth noting that the limiting factor on Australia’s ability to fast air isn’t airframes; it’s trained, combat proficient crews. That is why first the one Super Hornet and now the three Classic Hornet operational squadrons have been rotated through Okra at roughly six month intervals.

    This would obviously be different in a total war scenario, but for a limited operation such as Okra where our commitment is more of a political one and scale isn’t necessarily important, it’s not worth risking inexperienced crews and hurting the RAAF’s normal ‘raise, train, sustain’ rhythm which would have longer-term follow-on effects for the F-35’s introduction.

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  • Wombat


    ….and as a result of the extra hours and extra sorties, the pressure on an already stretched workforce continues to bite with no respite in sight. It’s great the best little Air Force in the world is achieving outstanding results but at what cost?

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