Ten Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) F/A-18A/B Classic Hornets from Number 2 Operational Conversion Unit (2OCU) based at RAAF Base Williamtown have conducted their final flight under the unit’s banner.
The historic flight acknowledged the conclusion of Classic Hornet pilot conversion training this year, marking the end of an era.
The aircraft flew north over Tomaree to Sugarloaf Point, up to Port Stephens and south to Redhead Beach.
Commanding officer of 2OCU, Wing Commander Scott Woodland, said 2OCU’s final Classic Hornet mission was a fitting tribute to a significant milestone in Air Force history.
"2OCU's critical role in preparing generations of Classic Hornet fighter aircrew with the skills and competency to engage in fighter combat has laid the very foundations of RAAF air power capability since the introduction of the platform in 1985,” Wing Commander Woodland said.
“Operational conversion has been at the cornerstone of the strength of the Classic Hornet platforms’ contribution – taking graduate Hawk 127 Lead-in Fighter pilots and then testing and challenging them under the most gruelling of conditions and toughest air-combat scenarios.
"The result has been the delivery of highly trained, focused personnel to frontline squadrons, performing with excellence at home and abroad on operations in defence of our national interests."
With this historic flight closing a significant chapter in Air Force history, the future of fast-jet aircrew training at 2OCU is now established with the training focused on supporting fifth-generation capabilities with the arrival and operational sustainment of the F-35A Lightning II.
"We welcome the commencement of the next phase of pilot conversion training for the F-35A," Wing Commander Woodland said.
"This represents a fundamental shift for 2OCU; one which we are fully equipped and ready to continue to deliver a superior war-fighting capability – supported by highly professional, highly skilled aircrew – performing with strength and focus when called upon by government."
The RAAF F/A-18A/B Classic Hornet platform is planned to be withdrawn from service in December 2021 with the RAAF’s fleet of Classic Hornets currently being replaced by the F-35A Lightning II.