• Credit: Nigel Pittaway
    Credit: Nigel Pittaway

Up to 46 former RAAF F/A-18A/B ‘Classic’ Hornets have been sold to an air combat training company in the United States, Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price announced this morning.

Minister Price said the aircraft have been sold to Air USA and will be prepared at RAAF Base Williamtown over the next three or four years. “The work to prepare these aircraft and components for sale will provide 24 direct industry jobs,” she said. 

Air USA is based in Quincy, Illinois, and currently operates a mixed fleet of Alpha Jet, Hawk, L-39 and L-59 Albatross jet trainers and Russian-built MiG-29 fighters. The company supplies a range of training to US Government agencies, including advanced electronic threat simulation, advanced combat air presentations, and air to ground ordnance delivery for Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC), Tactical Air Control (TAC),  Forward Air Control – Air (FAC-A) and Joint Fire Observer (JFO) training, as well as the provision of an air to air threat for air combat training.

The RAAF’s 71 Classic Hornets are being replaced by 72 Lockheed Martin F-35A Joint Strike Fighters and the aircraft announced today are in addition to up to 25 aircraft previously sold to Canada for service with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) while it decides on its next fighter acquisition program. 

If all options are exercised this will seemingly leave no aircraft remaining in Australia for preservation by museums and heritage centres around the country.

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