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Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18 Hornet

This aircraft can perform impressive slow speed maneouvers

The Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18A and F/A-18B Hornets are multi-role fighter aircraft, capable of air-to-air and air-to-ground missions.  Both the single seat F/A-18A and twin seat F/A-18B can undertake air interception, air combat, close air support of ground troops, and interdiction of enemy supply lines including shipping.

One of the RAAF's 71 F/A-18 Hornets screams past during the Royal New Zealand Air Force's 75th birthday party airshow.  Photo: © Alex Mitchell, HAFU

The Royal Australian Air Force purchased 57 F/A-18A fighters and 18 F/A-18B two-seat trainers to replace its Dassault Mirage III's in 1981, and the aircraft became operational with the RAAF between 1984 and 1990. Of these aircraft 71 remain in service with four aircraft having been lost in accidents during the 1980's-1990's. In 2006 the Australian Government purchased an additional 24 F/A-18F Super Hornets which first entered service in 2010.

The RAAF first deployed the Hornets operationally in 2001, when four aircraft were sent to Diego Garcia in an air defense role during coalition operations against the Taliban in Afghanistan. In 2003, 75 Squadron deployed 14 aircraft to Qatar as part of Operation Falconer and these aircraft saw action during the invasion of Iraq and flew a total of 350 combat missions during this conflict.

In March 2015 six F/A-18As from No. 75 Squadron were deployed to the Middle East as part of Operation Okra (the military intervention against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIL]). By the end of November 2015 the Hornets had conducted 580 sorties over Iraq, during which they dropped 363 munitions. The aircraft also flew 18 sorties over Syria in September 2015, dropping two munitions.

The F/A-18 Hornet is a multi-role aircraft with an impressive range of capabilities. This video shows how the aircraft is capable of both high speed, and very slow speed maneuvers. Watch through the video to see this pilot perfom an impressive slow speed pass.

Based at RAAF Base Williamtown and RAAF Base Tindal, the F/A-18A/B Hornets are an integral part of Australia’s air combat capability, though they are due to be phased out of operation in the late 2010's-early 2020's. They will be replaced with the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II.

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