July 8: The first of 24 F/A-18F Block II Super Hornets for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) was rolled out at Boeing’s plant at St Louis, Missouri, three months ahead of schedule. “Cooperation and great teamwork on the part of Australia’s Defence Materiel Organisation, the Royal Australian Air Force, the US Navy and the Hornet Industry Team have enabled the first RAAF Super Hornet to be delivered within budget and ahead of schedule,” said Bob Gower, Boeing vice president of F/A-18 and EA-18 Programs.
The first aircraft, A44-201, will be delivered later this year to RAAF Amberley with the remaining 23 following through to 2011. Australia is the first export customer for the Super Hornet, having ordered the aircraft in March 2007 as a stop-gap between the retirement of the F-111 and introduction of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. It is likely that the aircraft will be converted to EA-18G specification once the F-35 is in service in approximately ten years time, with provision for future conversion in the build of the Australian aircraft.