Marking a long and distinguished operational history, the F/A-18A/B Hornet reached a milestone of 400,000 flying hours since its entry into RAAF service three-and-a-half decades ago.

Commanding Officer of No. 2 Operational Conversion Unit, Wing Commander Scott Woodland, said it was a team effort spanning generations. 

“Air Force owes much of this success to the technicians, engineering and logistics officers, Warrant Officer Engineers and senior engineers that have supported Hornet operations for more than 30 years. There is no doubt that it was the dedication and commitment of individuals that contributed to this milestone,” he said. 

“As Commanding Officer of No. 2 Operational Conversion Unit, it is an honour and a privilege to be part of that history.”

With the phased draw-down of the F/A-18A/B Hornet fleet in progress, the strength and effectiveness of one of Air Force’s fourth-generation air combat capabilities can also be attributed to the close relationships developed with related Defence organisations and industry partners.

Officer Commanding of No. 81 Wing, Group Captain Benjamin Sleeman, said these relationships were highly valued.

“In addition to the outstanding contributions of our No. 81 Wing personnel, the unwavering support from the Tactical Fighter System Program Office (TFSPO), the Capability, Acquisition and Sustainment Group, as well as Hornet Enterprise partners, has ensured the aircraft has retained its strength of position as a significant air asset within the Royal Australian Air Force fleet,” Group Captain Sleeman said.  

“Of paramount importance is that these partnerships have also ensured that the aircraft has been flying safely in the air by our aircrew over those 400,000 flying hours – an achievement to be celebrated and acknowledged.”

“There is no doubt that it was the dedication and commitment of individuals that contributed to this milestone.”

Reflecting on this historic moment, Officer Commanding of TFSPO, Group Captain David Abraham, said the milestone showcased the resilient and adaptive culture of the support organisations within the Hornet Enterprise and the focus on mission success now and into the future.

“To meet the changing nature of the air combat environment, the F/A-18A/B Hornet platform has been refined through many iterations,” Group Captain Abraham said.

“The talents and focused efforts of the personnel within TFSPO have guided this complex process with precision – working in concert with No. 81 Wing personnel and our Defence industry partners.

“This collective contribution across the Hornet Enterprise continues to have a meaningful impact on the wider Air Force as an organisation that welcomes innovation, but is constantly evolving.”

F/A-18A/B Hornets are planned to be withdrawn from service in December 2021, with the fleet to be replaced by the F-35A Lightning II.