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Updated: RAAF No. 77 Squadron farewells F/A-18A/B Hornets

written by Adam Thorn | December 8, 2020

A Royal Australian Air Force FA-18A Hornet A21-23 Port Stephens
A Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18A Hornet A21-23 aircraft with Worimi livery releases a flare while flying off the east coast of New South Wales, adjacent to Worimi land near Port Stephens. (Department of Defence)

UPDATE Wednesday, 9 December

The RAAF’s No. 77 Squadron has added more flying displays to its farewelling of its F/A-18A/B Hornets this week.

The flights – cited below – include both the single-seat and twin-seat variants and are flying over a variety of destinations such as Nobbys Beach, Birubi Beach and Fighter World Museum. The new flights are in green.

No. 77 Squadron, which moved to Williamtown in early 1969, has been equipped with F/A-18 multi-role fighters since 1987.

The full details are as follows:


Monday, 7 December 2020 – Four aircraft formation at 10:00am over Nobbys Beach (Newcastle), and a single aircraft handling display at 2:00pm over Nobbys Beach and Birubi Beach (Port Stephens). Nobbys Beach can be accessed via Shortland Esplanade, Newcastle. Birubi Beach can be accessed via James Paterson Street, Port Stephens.

Tuesday, 8 December – Four aircraft formation at 10:00am over Birubi Beach, and a single aircraft handling display at 2.00pm over Fighter World Museum (Williamtown) and Nobby’s Beach. Fighter World Museum is located at 49 Medowie Road, Williamtown.

Wednesday, 9 December – Four aircraft formation at 10:00am over Fighter World Museum. Up to two F/A-18A/B Hornets will conduct a handling display at 2:30pm at Redhead Beach, including a flyover of Tuggerah Lake and Lake Macquarie.

Thursday, 10 December – Single aircraft handling display by the Worimi-painted F/A-18A Hornet at 10:00am over RAAF Base Williamtown. A four-aircraft formation at 2:00pm over Nobby’s Beach.

Friday, 11 December – Eight aircraft formation flight over the region covering Nelson Bay, Medowie, Raymond Terrace and Newcastle, followed by a four aircraft formation display at 11:00am over RAAF Base Williamtown.

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.

Last week, the first of two classic F/A-18A Hornets were officially 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.

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

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

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Updated: RAAF No. 77 Squadron farewells F/A-18A/B Hornets Comment

  • Gordon Smith


    So what is the difference between an F/A 18 A/B Hornet, an F/A ?? Super Hornet and an EAG Growler? And where does the F-35 A Strike Fighter fit in this mix? Also given the rather ambiguous role of the HMAS Canberra and Adelaide, are there any plans afoot to buy the F-35 B stovl version of the strike fighter to use as the US Marines intend using them?

  • N


    Flying 4 jets at around $ 400000 an hour ie 160k for a send off what waste of tax payers money. That is just fuel what about the hours wasted on practice on said farewell, probably totalling even more then a few hours practice, nice to know their priorities.

  • MikeofPerth


    When 75 sqn stands down for conversion next year will the RAAF deploy F-35s from Williamtown to Tindal to provide air defence for up north?

  • A good and reliable multi-role aircraft. There would be not many fighter aircraft that can state the statistics of Australia’s F-18 A and B models certainly in longevity where they were in service for over 30 years. Only three lost in accidents and if I recall correctly, at least one was due to pilot error. I would be fascinated to know if any aircraft were saved due to them having two engines. Is there any truth to the rumour that I’ve heard that there is going to be a “significant” purchase of additional Superhornets (up to doubling) including an additional 28 F-35’s (model unknown). I think we all know why.

  • Michael Van Dyk


    Does anyone know if any hornets are going to be maintained in airworthy condition by preservation groups for flying displays ? , Unfortunately it was not the case for the F111 , hopefully we will see a hornet buzzing the sky long into the future

  • Craig Beatty


    Yes, a tribute to the aircraft and to allow us all to see them for the last time. Thanks RAAF.

  • Craig Beatty


    Or will a temporary squadron be stood up to perform the function?

  • Craig Beatty


    RAAF has 28 F-35s on option. Let’s hope 24 extra F-18Fs are purchased to take those anti ship missiles unlikely to ever be carried by the F-35s.

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