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Oxygen upgrade approved for Australian Super Hornets

written by Robert Dougherty | July 10, 2023

A RAAF F/A-18F Super Hornet taxis following a flying demonstration at the AVALON 2023. (LACW Annika Smit, Defence)

RAAF F/A-18F Super Hornets will receive upgraded oxygen systems as part of a US Department of Defense contract worth US$12 million.

American aerospace company Mission Systems Davenport will provide a redesign and upgrade of the existing On-Board Oxygen System GGU-12+ oxygen concentrator for the Australia F/A-18F program, according to a US DOD contract announcement made on 5 July.

The aircraft are based at No. 1 Squadron at RAAF Base Amberley and used for air interception, air combat, close air support of ground troops, and interception of enemy supply lines, including shipping.

Australian F/A-18F aircraft can carry armaments such as AIM-120 advanced medium-range air-to-air missile, AIM-9X “Sidewinder” short-range air-to-air missiles, joint direct attack munitions, conventional and laser-guided bombs, AGM-154 joint stand-off weapons, AGM-84 harpoon anti-ship missiles as well as an M61A2 20mm nose-mounted gun.

Work for the non-recurring engineering support contract will be performed in Davenport, Iowa and is expected to be completed in November 2026.


Naval Air Warfare Center Maryland is the contracting organisation, and foreign military sales customer funds of $12,065,976 will be obligated at the time of award

Australia originally bought the Super Hornet to act as a stopgap between the retirement of the RAAF’s F-111s and the delayed arrival of its true successor, the fifth-generation F-35.

Today, the RAAF has 24 Super Hornets and 12 Growlers, which have also participated in Exercise Pitch Black in the Northern Territory and Exercise Bersama Shield on the Malaysian Peninsula.

Both models are operated out of RAAF Base Amberley in Queensland after arriving in 2010 and achieved final operational capability in 2012.

The US Navy has a fleet of more than 600 Super Hornets, and the aircraft was flown in the new Top Gun film.

The Growler is a variant of the Super Hornet but differs in several key areas. In place of the nose-mounted gun, it carries two ALQ-218 tactical jamming receivers (TJR) pods on its wingtips and up to five ALQ-99 jammers on centre-line and wing stations.

This technology allows it to both shut down enemy defences if it senses they’re tracking it or proactively jam them anyway using its radar.

It can even take out specific frequencies and comms devices, locating their emitters.

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