The last F/A-18 Classic Hornet to have deeper maintenance servicing rolled out of the Boeing Defence Australia facility at Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Williamtown on July 9. It was the 163rd deeper maintenance servicing for the Classic Hornet fleet and Boeing has provided contracted maintenance support to the Classic Hornet fleet since February 2013. In total, Boeing has supported 293 deeper maintenance servicings of Classic Hornets, generating an additional 140,000 flying hours. This is around one-third of all Classic flying hours.
Commander of Air Combat Group Air Commodore Tim Alsop said,” deeper maintenance servicings would no longer be required as the drawdown of the Classic Hornet capability continued. This is one of the many milestones that the Classic Hornet fleet will mark during this year and in 2021. Boeing and Defence Industries’ contribution to Air Combat capability cannot be understated. Deeper maintenance servicings produce the available flying hours that drives aircraft availability and fleet health, this in turn allows 81 Wing to project Air Combat Capability and go about its business.
This role extended to Operation Okra support as an additional two lines of deeper maintenance were added in through task prioritisation, servicings structure and schedule optimisation. These vital 24 deeper maintenance servicings were completed in support of Air Combat Group’s contribution to Operation Okra. The F/A-18A/B Classic Hornet fleet of 75 aircraft was introduced into service in May 1985 and will have accumulated 36 years’ service by the planned withdrawal date of December 2021. The F/A-18A/B Classic Hornet fleet achieved the 400,000 hours service milestone in July 2019.
Deeper maintenance servicing on the fleet of 75 Classic Hornets will no longer be necessary, with the model scheduled for withdrawal from service in December 2021. The Classic Hornet – which will have seen 36 years of service by that point – is due to be replaced by the F-35A Lightning II aircraft. The Australia government has publicly offered the Hornets for sale once they are no longer needed by the RAAF, with a deal to sell 25 to Canada finalised back in early 2019. Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said that Boeing will continue to assist Defence to prepare retired Classic Hornet aircraft for “heritage display within Australia and potential sale to foreign customers”.