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Final F/A-18 Classic Hornet arrives for historic retirement

The last of eight F/A-18 Classic Hornets has been delivered by Boeing Defence Australia, after the aircraft was retired from nearly 40 years of operational service in December 2021.

The last of eight F/A-18 Classic Hornets has been delivered by Boeing Defence Australia, after the aircraft was retired from nearly 40 years of operational service in December 2021.

The unveiling of Classic Hornet A21-101 at the RAAF Association Aviation Heritage Museum of Western Australia at Bull Creek on 12 April was the culmination of the two-year project by BDA’s Classic Hornet Sustainment Support (CHSS) team.

During delivery, each heritage Hornet jet had its military software information, hardware, and chemicals removed for safety and security reasons before dismantling. The wingless fuselage was then transported by semi-trailer and reassembled by a team of six technicians across approximately five weeks.


Heritage Hornets identified as significant heritage aircraft for the Australian War Memorial and the Air Force Collection include the A21-022, A21-023, A21-029, A21-032, A21-040 and A21-043, two-seat B models A21-101 and A21-103.

“Many on our team have worked in both the RAAF and at Boeing for years, if not decades, on supporting the Classic Hornets, which has fuelled their passion for this project,” said BDA’s CHSS program manager and RAAF veteran Gail Collie.

“The team has used their skills and expertise to return these remarkable jets to their former glory so they can be honoured for their decades of service to Australia and its allies. We all feel privileged to have been part of such an important program that is preserving them for posterity.”

The Australian Department of Defence has previously confirmed there is an ongoing sale of 46 former Royal Australian Air Force Hornets to RAVN Aerospace company (previously-Air USA) from March 2020.

There is also a retired fleet of F/A-18A/B Hornets jets reportedly left by the Australian government at US Andersen Air Force Base in Guam.

International and Australian commentators have called for Classic Hornets to be donated as military aid to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, who have requested F-16 Fighting Falcon jet aircraft in their fight against Russian forces.

BDA sustainment operations director Amy List said the Australian Classic Hornet story exemplifies Boeing’s platform life cycle capability.

“As the original equipment manufacturer, our heritage companies built the Hornets and introduced them into service; then, for more than 23 years, we worked in partnership with the RAAF and local industry to upgrade, modify, and maintain them,” she said.

“We also performed all end-of-service-life disposal activities, including preparing 20 jets for sale to the Royal Canadian Air Force and the eight for the Australian heritage project.

“It’s an excellent case study in how Boeing’s cradle-to-grave platform sustainment solutions enhance our customer’s air defences and help ensure their frontline assets retain their capability edge for many decades of service.”

Robert Dougherty

Robert Dougherty

Robert is a senior journalist who has previously worked for Seven West Media in Western Australia, as well as Fairfax Media and Australian Community Media in New South Wales. He has produced national headlines, photography and videography of emergency services, business, community, defence and government news across Australia. Robert graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, Majoring in Public Relations and Journalism at Curtin University, attended student exchange program with Fudan University and holds Tier 1 General Advice certification for Kaplan Professional. Reach out via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or via LinkedIn.
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