Australia has taken delivery of two more Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornets, bringing its total of the type to 20.

The final four aircraft from Australia's 24-unit Super Hornet order are to be delivered by the end of 2011, said Australian minister for defence materiel Jason Clare.

"The Super Hornet is one of the best fighter planes in the world," he said. "It has an advanced multi-mode AESA [active electronically scanned array] radar and low observability characteristics that make it significantly better than any fourth-generation fighter."

The latest two aircraft arrived at Royal Australian Air Force base Amberley in Queensland.

Australia has not ruled out purchasing more Super Hornets. Canberra placed the existing 24-aircraft order in 2006 to fill a capability gap caused by delays in the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programme, of which Australia may acquire 100.

"It's quite clear there will be an exhaustive risk assessment done of the current [F-35] schedule and that will be available to the US administration and partners like Australia by the end of the year or early next year," said Australian defence minister Stephen Smith last week. "That will enable us to start making judgements about whether we need to make any other plans or take any other action so far as a potential gap in capability is concerned."

Source: Flight International