The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) will officially retire the F/A-18A/B Hornet next year. So, No. 77 Squadron, with some help from the Air Force Imagery Specialists of No. 28 Squadron and a RAAF C-130J, put up four of their jets, two of which are wearing brilliant paint schemes, to catch their venerable mount in spectacular fashion before it disappears from their flight line once and for all. And boy do we mean spectacular.
The images posted by the RAAF of the photo flight are absolutely stunning, with a mix of C-130 ramp and F/A-18 camera ship perspectives set against a slew of backgrounds. No. 77 Squadron’s “33 years of Hornet” paint scheme looks especially stunning and it really caps off the type’s service in a classy manner. The other specially marked jet is the “Worimi Hornet” that wears artwork of the Kilyarr Kilyarr, the Wedgetail eagle, to demonstrate the air force’s commitment to Indigenous men and women who have served, and continue to serve, in the Australian Defence Force.
The photoshoot occurred over and near Newcastle, New South Wales, with the commemorative Hornet loaded up to the brim with AIM-120 AMRAAM and AIM-132 ASRAAM air-to-air missiles for a dramatic impact.
Check out the awesome set of photos below:
The RAAF’s retirement of the Hornet is offset by the fielding of dozens of F-35As—72 will be delivered in total—as well as the existing fleet of two dozen relatively young Super Hornets and 11 Growlers. The RAAF is also blazing a bold trail by working to field its own indigenous loyal wingman drone that will supplement and force multiply its modernized manned tactical combat jet fleet.
As such, it’s not like the RAAF is letting much go by retiring their decades-old Hornets, some or even all of which could find a second life of their own. Still, it won’t be easy to see an aircraft go that has performed marvelously over more than three decades and many conflicts abroad.
Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com