Australia decided to acquire 24 F/A-18F Block II Super Hornet multi role aircraft to close a potential air combat capability gap that could have opened in 2010, when current F-111 are retired and 2015, when JSF fighters are expected to be fully operational in Australia. A dozen Super Hornets will be delivered starting in 2009. The remaining twelve will be delivered in 2011. Full Operational Capability is expected to be achieved by the end of 2012, including full indigenous training, EW support, logistics and full deployment capability.
The Australian government will not divert money from JSF or other defense programs, but support this acquisition by a special supplemental funding. The projected spending will amount to approximately A$6 billion over 10 years, including the aircraft acquisition cost, training and logistical support. While stressing full support for the JSF program, the Australian MOD explained its decision by ‘eliminating the risk to air combat and strike capability during the transition to the JSF’. Current planning is for Australia to acquire its first JSF in 2013, pending on final Australian government approval expected in 2008. Will Australia keep these Super Hornets or acquire a fourth JSF squadron, thus streamlining its Air Force fleet? A final decision will be made during the next decade.