View Full Version : First Aussie Super Hornet Takes to the Air to replace F-111's

07-22-2009, 11:41 PM
irst Aussie Super Hornet Takes to the Air
By christopher p. cavas
Published: 22 Jul 2009 17:29

Australia's F/A-18F Super Hornet program got a boost July 22 when the first of a planned 24 new strike fighters made its maiden flight.
The first Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18F Super Hornet takes off July 20 to begin its initial flight. Boeing will complete delivery of the first of 24 F/A-18Fs to the RAAF later this month. (Richard Rau / Boeing)

The Royal Australian Air Force aircraft lifted off from Lambert International Airport in St. Louis, Mo., where it was built at Boeing's Integrated Defense Systems facility.

According to Greg Combet, Australia's Minister for Defence Personnel, Material and Science, the first flight lasted more than an hour.

"The government is pleased to see that the Super Hornet project is progressing well and remains on schedule and on budget," Combet said in a statement.

Australia announced in March 2007 it would become the first international customer for the Super Hornet, which is the mainstay of the U.S. Navy's strike fighter force. All of the Australian Block II Super Hornets will be of the two-seat F model. The aircraft will be referred to in Australian service as "Rhinos," an unofficial nickname for the planes in U.S. service.

Following further flight tests in the U.S., the first Rhino is scheduled to arrive at RAAF base Amberley in March 2010. The remaining 23 aircraft in the $6 billion deal are to be delivered in 2010 and 2011.

All Rhinos will be equipped with the Raytheon APG-79 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, providing a quantum capability leap over the F-111 fighter-bombers the new aircraft will replace.

Nearly 400 F/A-18 E and F models have been delivered by Boeing to the U.S. Navy.