Australia is almost certain to upgrade its Boeing F/A-18 Hornet irrespective of continuing fighter-requirement studies, according to the country's defence minister, Ian McLachlan.

McLachlan took the opportunity of the release of Australia's Strategic Policy document to tell Parliament that"-it is likely that a major upgrade of the F/A-18 will be required, whatever the outcome of these studies, as an interim step in modernising our air capabilities."

British Aerospace and Boeing are believed to have submitted detailed costing data on the Eurofighter EF2000 and the F/A-18E/F, respectively, covering the acquisition of an initial 12-24 aircraft. The policy document says that the F/A-18 is being considered for replacement as early as 2010.

McLachlan says that the defence department"-is examining options on the balance of emphasis that we should put between upgrading the sensors and combat system of the F/A-18 and acquiring new aircraft."

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) also intends to equip its F/A-18s with new medium- and short-range air-to-air missiles to sustain the aircraft's air-combat capability in dealing with future regional threats .


Source: Flight International