Minister for Defence Stephen Smith and Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare today announced the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) fleet of 24 F/A-18F Super Hornet aircraft have achieved Final Operational Capability (FOC).
This is a major milestone for the Super Hornet fleet and is a major step forward for Australia’s Air Combat Capability
The Super Hornet fleet enhances Australia’s Air Combat Capability and ensures Australia’s Air Combat Capability regional edge is maintained until the introduction into service of the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter.
FOC is declared when the entire capability can be deployed on Defence operations. FOC takes into account not only the aircraft itself but also logistics, management, sustainment, facilities and training.
The Super Hornet is built by Boeing at its production line in St Louis, Missouri and has been flown by the United States Navy since 2001.
The Super Hornet gives the RAAF the capability to conduct air-to-air combat, strike targets on land and at sea, suppress enemy air defences and conduct reconnaissance.
The Super Hornets have been delivered on budget and ahead of schedule because of the teamwork of the manufacturer Boeing, the US Navy, the RAAF and the Defence Materiel Organisation.
The RAAF Base Amberley F/A-18F Super Hornets also form the basis for the transition to an EA-18G Growler capability later this decade.
Growler is an electronic warfare system that gives the Super Hornet the ability to jam the electronics systems of aircraft and land-based radars and communications systems. The Growler electronic warfare aircraft was used very effectively by the US Navy during air operations in Libya last year.
In 2009, the Government made the decision to wire 12 Super Hornets for potential conversion to the Growler configuration at a cost of $35 million.
In May this year the Government announced more than $19 million would be spent to purchase long lead item electronic equipment for the potential conversion of 12 of Australia’s F-18 Super Hornet’s to the EA-18G Growler variant.
In August, the Government announced that it would acquire the Growler electronic warfare system at an estimated cost of around $1.5 billion, including funding to acquire the Growler conversion kits, supporting equipment and systems, spares and training and initial training systems.