More Super Hornets for Australia?


Will Australia order additional Boeing F/A-18E/Fs? That is the view of some industry sources after today’s announcement that Canberra will wire 12 of the 24 Boeing F/A-18E/Fs it has ordered for electronic attack capabilities, allowing it to upgrade these into the E/A18 Growler later on if it wishes.

When the country finally releases its long overdue defence white paper, it should give details on its plans for to buy the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. But while Australia remains committed to the JSF programme, but the delays that have plagued the F-35 mean that it is still uncertain when the fighter will finally join the Royal Australian Air Force fleets.

The RAAF’s air defence capabilities will inevitably fall after it begins to retire the General Dynamics F-111s from next year. Upgrades to the service’s older F/A-18A/B fleet will help to plug that gap, as will the induction of the Super Hornets from 2011.

However, that may not be enough and some sources believe that Canberra will convert 12 Super Hornets from the original order into Growlers, and place an order for more F/A-18E/Fs in the coming months. That could then have an impact on the number of F-35s that Australia finally orders,

Whatever the case, there is still much uncertainty about Australia’s fighter procurement programme. Hopefully, the situation will become clearer at the Australian International Airshow and Exhibition, Avalon 2009, which will take place in a fortnight.

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