Defence this week provided more details regarding its plans to dispose of its remaining fleet of Classic F/A-18A/B Hornets and in addition also outlined plans to auction the remaining batch of PC-9/A trainers and the likely disposal of most of Army’s S-70A-9 Black Hawk helicopters.
ADM has reported that ‘up to 46’ Hornets will be sold to US-based air combat training company US Air. Defence has previously announced that ‘up to 25’ Hornets will be sold to the Royal Canadian Air Force, and at least three of those aircraft have already been delivered to Canada.
If all these options were to be taken up, it would account for all 71 of the RAAF’s surviving Hornets, leaving none to be allocated to museums for preservation and display. However, Defence has confirmed that eight aircraft will be retained for heritage purposes, including six single-seat F/A-18A Hornets (A21-22, -23, -29, -32, -40, -43) and two twin-seat F/A-18Bs (A21-101 and -103).
“The total number of Hornets that may be sold to Canada is at least 18 and up to 25,” a Defence spokesperson said this week. “Up to 46 Hornets will be sold to Air USA. The final number will depend on how many aircraft Canada purchase.”
The spokesperson declined to provide details of individual aircraft, citing commercial in confidence reasons.
Defence also confirmed that the final batch of PC-9/As, up to 17 aircraft in total, may be sold at auction, most likely in 2021. Eighteen aircraft had previously been sold in an online auction conducted by Australian Frontline Machinery and Pickle’s Auctions, but the Defence spokesperson again declined to provide details of their new owners, or prices fetched during the auction on commercial in confidence grounds.
ADM understands that five of the aircraft were sold to another US-based air combat training company, Blue Air of Las Vegas, Nevada, as five aircraft with serial numbers corresponding to five PC-9/As sold in the auction have recently been placed on the US civil aircraft register.
Defence says that nine PC-9/As have been retained for heritage purposes in Australia; for display at the RAAF Museum Point Cook (A23-001), RAAF Base Pearce (A23-009), Fighter World at Williamtown (A23-020), RAAF Base Townsville (A23-022), the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Nowra (A23-028), two for display at RAAF Base East Sale (A23-030 and -036) and one at RAAF Base Wagga Wagga (A23-031). One aircraft reserved for heritage purposes (A23-032) will be displayed at a ‘RAAF Heritage’ location yet to be announced.
Five of the Army’s 34 surviving Black Hawk helicopters have also been earmarked for preservation and will be allocated to the Australian War Memorial, Australian Army Flying Museum at Oakey, RAAF Museum Point Cook and the RAAF Aviation Heritage Centre at Amberley.
“Defence expects that 34 Black Hawks will be disposed. Five have been allocated to heritage purposes, with the number to be sold commercially yet to be confirmed,” the spokesperson added. “Defence will not know the buyers until completion of commercial approach to market.”
The number to be disposed will presumably include two helicopters which the federal government announced would be donated to the NSW Rural Fire Service, amid much fanfare, in June 2018.