PICTURE: Australia’s first F/A-18F squadron declared operational

Singapore
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Australia's first squadron of Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornets is now operational, following the recent retirement of the nation's General Dynamics F-111Cs.

The announcement follows the arrival of four new F/A-18s at Amberley air base in Queensland, says the RAAF.

"The Super Hornets will add to the fire power of the RAAF, taking Australia's capability to the next generation of fighter plane," says the air force. "The fleet includes the first three of Australia's Super Hornets to be configured to accommodate the Growler electronic attack system."

It adds that the Super Hornets will fill an important capability gap until the full introduction into service of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

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 © Australian DoD

The four newly arrived aircraft departed from the Boeing facility in St Louis, Missouri, and over a number of days transited to Amberley via Travis AFB in California, Hickam AFB in Hawaii and Andersen AFB, Guam.

Australia retired its last F-111Cs on 2 December. It was the last nation to operate the swing-wing, long-range strike aircraft.

The F-35 was originally intended as the F-111's replacement, but delays in the programme forced the RAAF to acquire Super Hornets as a stopgap in 2006. The Super Hornets are due to be retired by 2021 as the F-35 is delivered.