Australia will sell up to 46 retired F/A-18 Hornet fighter aircraft to American air combat training company Air USA, the Australian Department of Defence announced.
“Workers at RAAF Base Williamtown will service and prepare up to 46 retired F/A-18 Classic Hornet aircraft that will be sold to air combat training company Air USA”, said a DoD statement.
Australian Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said the work will provide employment certainty for workers in the NSW Hunter region.
“The work to prepare these aircraft and components for sale will provide 24 direct industry jobs while Air Force transitions from the Classic Hornet to the F‑35 Joint Strike Fighter,” Minister Price said. “This highlights the strong performance of the region’s defence industry in servicing and maintaining the Classic Hornets over the past 30 years. Apart from the jobs directly supported by the work at RAAF Base Williamtown, more defence industry jobs are expected to be created across Australia through repair and overhaul work on aircraft servicing components.”
The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF)’s Classic Hornet fleet is being progressively retired as the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter is introduced into service. RAAF has now taken delivery of 20 Joint Strike Fighters, out of a total order of 72.
The legacy Hornet aircraft supplied to Air USA will be used to provide training services to the U.S. Air Force and will be prepared over the next three to four years. Air USA was one of the seven companies who were awarded contracts, with a combined not-to-exceed value of $6.4 billion, by the U.S. Air Force for Combat Air Force contracted air support operations.
The other six companies selected are Airborne Tactical Advantage Company LLC. (ATAC), Blue Air Training, Coastal Defense, Draken International, Tactical Air Support (TacAir) and Top Aces Corp.
According to the contract, the contractors are to provide complete contracted air support services for realistic and challenging advanced adversary air threats and close air support (CAS) threats. The services include, but not limited to, aircraft, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), aircraft systems support, pilots, aircraft maintenance, support equipment, in addition to program, quality, and contract management to meet military requirements.