Updated 1443, 09.12.20
A RAAF F/A-18F Super Hornet has crashed on the runway at RAAF Amberley, forcing two pilots to eject from the aircraft and the rest of the fleet to be grounded.
According to the ABC, witnesses saw the pilots eject before takeoff and photos indicate damage to the forward starboard fuselage.
"Defence will provide more information once the immediate actions associated with the incident are completed," a spokesperson said. "The cause of the incident is not known at this time and will be subject to investigation."
Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld has reportedly grounded the entire RAAF fleet of 24 Super Hornets and 11 Growler aircraft while an investigation works to determine the cause of the crash.
In response to questions from ADM, Defence confirmed that the fleet had been grounded and that it was in contact with international partners.
"Defence can confirm that at approximately 2.30pm 8 December, an incident involving an Air Force F/A-18F Super Hornet occurred during take-off at RAAF Base Amberley," the spokesperson said. "The aircrew ejected and are safe. No other personnel were involved in the incident."
"Defence’s first priority is the safety of personnel. As a precaution, Air Force has ceased operations for both the F/A-18F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler fleets.
"The resumption of operations will be guided by information provided by the Safety Investigation team.
"The F/A-18A/B Classic Hornet and F-35A Joint Strike Fighter are not affected by the cessation of operations."
"Defence is in contact with our international partners and other users of the aircraft who will make decisions relating to their own fleets."
In 2018, a RAAF Growler caught fire in the US after an engine failure.