In Focus

In Conversation: The retirement of the Classic Hornet

A RAAF Hornet touches down at RAAF Base Curtin in 2016. (Defence)

After over three decades of service, the Australian Defence Force in November officially retired its fleet of single-seat F/A-18A and two-seat F/A-18B Classic Hornets. Since first entering into service with the Royal Australian Air Force in 1986, Air Force has welcomed 75 Classic Hornets, operated by No. 75 Squadron at RAAF Base Tindal, and No. 3 and 77 Squadrons at RAAF Base Williamtown. In its 35 years of service, the Classic Hornet multi-role fighter fleet has completed more than 400,000 flight hours across thousands of missions.

At the time the Classic Hornet was ordered in 1981, it represented one of the biggest leaps in technology the RAAF had ever seen. It gave the Tactical Fighter Group a number of brand-new or enhanced capabilities, including a pulse-doppler look-down radar with a shoot-down capability, an inertial navigation system and a head-up display. Developed for the United States Navy and Marine Corps, all but two of Australia’s fleet were assembled in Australia.

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