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Super Hornet achieves Final Operational Capability

A technician gives F/A-18F Super Hornet aircrew the all clear as they prepare for take off.

The Royal Australian Air Force’s fleet of 24 F/A-18F Super Hornet aircraft have achieved Final Operational Capability (FOC).

This milestone is a major step toward ensuring Australia’s Air Combat Capability 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. It takes into account not only the aircraft itself but also logistics, management, sustainment, facilities and training.

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 RAAF Base Amberley F/A-18F Super Hornets also preparing for the transition to an EA-18G Growler electronic warfare capability later this decade, enabling the Super Hornet to jam the electronics systems of aircraft and land-based radars and communications systems.

The Government is considering a range of air combat capability options, after receiving the Air Combat Capability Transition Plan from Defence.

The Plan includes an assessment of whether alternative options need to be implemented to ensure continuity in Australia’s Air Combat Capability in light of Joint Strike Fighter project delays and the ageing of Australia’s Classic F/A-18 Hornet fleet.

The Air Combat Capability Transition Plan considered the process for managing the Air Force’s transition from the current mix of Classic Hornet and Super Hornet to a future Air Combat Capability fleet, including the Joint Strike Fighter.

The Plan also includes options to purchase additional Super Hornet aircraft.

The Government has directed Defence to seek up-to-date pricing information on Super Hornets from the United States.

Australia will now send a Letter of Request (LOR) to the United States seeking cost and availability information for up to an additional 24 Super Hornet aircraft through the United States Foreign Military Sales program.

The LOR does not commit Australia to purchase more Super Hornets.

The LOR response will assist the Government to consider all Air Combat Capability options in 2013 with the latest and best cost and availability information.