Classic F/A-18A Hornets handed over to War Memorial

written by Adam Thorn | December 4, 2020
FA-18A Hornet A21-022 transported
FA-18A Hornet A21-022 has been taken apart and is being transported to Canberra (RAAF)

The first of two classic F/A-18A Hornets has officially been handed over to the Australian War Memorial on Friday.

A21-022, which was deployed on three Middle East operations, was partially disassembled and then put back together in order to make the trip to Canberra from RAAF Base Williamtown.

Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said its new home was a “fitting tribute” to the aircraft, which has been a favourite of RAAF pilots.

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“I would like to thank Boeing Defence Australia, which reassembled and prepared the aircraft at the AWM Treloar Technology Centre for display, for its work on this project,” Minister Price said.

A21-022 was retired on 14 May 2020 after completing 30 years in service, including 6,131.5 RAAF flying hours.

Its service history includes:

  • Operation Bastille from 16 February 2003 to 18 March 2003 (RAAF No. 75 Squadron);
  • Operation Falconer from 19 March 2003 to 3 May 2003 (RAAF No. 75 Squadron), conducting 20 combat missions; and
  • Operation Okra from October 2016 to May 2017 (RAAF No. 75 and No. 77 Squadrons) and conducted over 50 combat missions.

A second F/A-18, A21-040, will also be displayed at the memorial in mid-2022.

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Australian Aviation previously reported how the 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 Royal Australian Air Force with a giant leap in technology at the time.

The Australian War Memorial is Australia’s national memorial to the members of its armed forces and supporting organisations who have died or participated in wars involving the Commonwealth of Australia, and a number of conflicts involving personnel from the Australian colonies prior to Federation.

Minister Price previously 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.”

Earlier this year, workers at RAAF Base Williamtown serviced 46 retired F/A-18 Classic Hornet aircraft to be sold to air combat training company Air USA.

The Classic Hornet aircraft will be used to provide training services to the US Air Force and will be prepared over the next three to four years.

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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