Antonov An-124 arrives in Williamtown to pick up Classic Hornets

written by Adam Thorn | November 30, 2020

An Antonov An-124 arrived in Brisbane last week to collect classic F/A-18A Hornets from Williamtown for delivery to Canada.

The Antonov An-124-100M, UR-82008 msn 19530501006, departed Honolulu on 13 November at 11:50pm as flight ADB382F and landed in Brisbane the next morning at 5:49am.

On 26 November, it flew to Newcastle, arriving at 9:17am before departing at 1:18pm the same day to return to Brisbane. On 27 November, UR-82008 departed Brisbane at 9:21am, bound for Honolulu as flight ADB3582, before continuing on to Montreal an hour and a half after landing.

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UR-82008 on the way back in from Williamtown this afternoon! ^Kevin

Posted by YBBN Spotters on Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Last year, Australian Aviation reported how Canada had purchased 18 RAAF Hornets to bolster its air force’s own CF-18 Hornet flying ranks, with an additional seven aircraft acquired for spares and testing.

Local reports said the acquisition cost of the aircraft was C$90 million ($95 million), while a total of C$500m ($525 million) had been budgeted for the acquisition which will also include spares and the fitting of unspecified “Canadian-specific equipment” and upgrades.

Canada’s CF-18s are of a similar configuration to those of the RAAF, having undergone an extensive upgrade in the late 1990s and early 2000s to a configuration similar to that of Australia’s multi-phased AIR 5375 Hornet Upgrade Program (HUG). Canadian CF-18s are fitted with a spotlight on the forward port fuselage, and there are minor differences in the weapons carried and in operational flight program software.

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Canada’s Trudeau Liberal government froze the country’s planned acquisition of about 90 F-35As when it came to power in late 2014, and instead looked to acquire 18 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets as an interim capability while it conducted a competitive evaluation for a permanent fighter replacement. Canada remains a JSF partner nation pending the outcome of the evaluation.

But the Super Hornet acquisition was cancelled in 2017 in response to a complaint by Boeing to the US Commerce Department over what it said were unfair Canadian government subsidies of commercial manufacturer Bombardier’s new C Series airliner (now the Airbus A220). Boeing’s complaint was subsequently dismissed by the US federal trade tribunal in early 2018, while the C Series line was sold to Airbus.

In October 2020, Australian Aviation also reported that two classic F/A-18A Hornets would be displayed at the Australian War Memorial from December.

The RAAF Classic Hornet fleet is being progressively retired as 72 F-35A Joint Strike Fighters are introduced into service.

The initial order of 75 Hornets was placed in November 1981. The order consisted of 57 single-seat F/A-18As and 18 two-seat F/A-18Bs. The Hornet provided the RAAF with a giant leap in technology at the time.

Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price called the fighter a “special aircraft” for the RAAF.

“It employed the first Australian weapon on Operation Falconer in 2003, and was also deployed on Operation Okra in 2016-2017,” Minister Price said.

“It is very fitting that it will now spend its next life on permanent display at the Australian War Memorial. This will be a fantastic opportunity for generations of Australians to view and appreciate [an] example of Australian Air Force capability.”

Based at RAAF Base Williamtown and RAAF Base Tindal, the F/A-18A/B Hornets have been 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.

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2 Comments

  • AgentGerko

    says:

    C$90million for 25 supersonic fighter aircraft sounds like a bargain for the Canadians.

  • Adam S

    says:

    Any info on how many were loaded on?

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