Support for the Royal Australian Air Force's Classic Hornet fleet has been extended, with the government awarding a $145 million sustainment contract extension.
Boeing Defence Australia's sustainment services for the 71 F/A-18A/B Classic Hornets have been extended until 2021 to go beyond deeper maintenance services.
The revised contract will see Boeing become the platform’s weapon system integrator, co-ordinating logistics, engineering and maintenance services.
Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne said the contract extension will secure ongoing employment in the Newcastle and Hunter regions in NSW.
"It will secure ongoing employment for approximately 80 additional workers based in Newcastle and Hunter regions of NSW," Minister Pyne said.
"This contract amendment expands the volume of work and continues a highly successful partnership with Boeing Defence Australia and its subcontractors.
"As well as securing continued support for Australia's air combat capability, this revised arrangement will restructure Classic Hornet aircraft support to align with the First Principles Review outcomes and allow Defence to redirect resources to transition support to newer capabilities, like the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter and EA-18G Growler."
Boeing Defence Australia vice president and managing director Darren Edwards said that, as the original equipment manufacturer, the company will work closely with existing Commonwealth and industry partners to deliver optimal sustainment support services across all aspects of the Classic Hornet platform.
"The Classic Hornet fleet is an integral part of Australia’s air combat capability and the Boeing Defence Australia team will play a critical role in maximising aircraft availability," said Edwards.
"This new operating model is a testament to the integrated and trusted partnership between Boeing and the Commonwealth, as platform stewards, to provide vital support services to the Australian Classic Hornet fleet."
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Head of Aerospace Systems Division Air Vice-Marshal Catherine Roberts said that this expanded commercial arrangement will ensure Australia’s Classic Hornet Air combat capability until December 2021.
F/A-18A and F/A-18B Hornets are capable of both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions.
Australia’s fleet of 71 are based at RAAF Base Williamtown and RAAF Base Tindal.
In the last two years, the F/A-18A/Bs have participated in a range of exercises including Exercise Bersama Lima and Exercise Bersama Shield in Malaysia, Exercise Red Flag in Alaska and Exercise Pitch Black in the Northern Territory.