The Classic: F/A-18A/B Hornet Aircraft in Australian Service


Selected in 1981 as the aircraft that would replace the Mirage IIIO as Australia’s new fighter, the F/A-18 Hornet would proceed to establish an un-equaled record of service as Australia’s most successful combat aircraft. Designed from the outset to deliver superior performance as an air-to-air fighter and a precision strike/attack aircraft, the Hornet, more than any other aircraft, has shaped today’s Royal Australian Air Force.

Entering service in 1985, the Classic Hornet, as it became known alongside later F/A-18 variants, would serve as the foundation capability for a generation of networked systems and air combat capabilities. Along the way it would be subjected to the largest and most complex upgrade program ever attempted, anywhere. The aircraft would also lead the way in two of the most significant applications of combat air power by Australian forces since the Vietnam War.

Now retired from service, the full story of Classic Hornet aircraft in Australian service can be told through the experiences of those who dedicated their efforts to make this platform serviceable, work effectively or to evolve. Classic Hornets were on the front-line of Australia’s combat capability for more than 36 years. The story of this remarkable warhorse is a story of evolution, incredible audacity, innovation, survival, and persistence.

About the Author

John Quaife grew up in Melbourne and as a kid just loved military aviation.

He lived the dream. John spent 28 years with Royal Australian Air Force as a fighter pilot. He is a graduate of the RAAF’s ‘top gun’ training course who went on to become one of Australia’s most senior military commanders. John continues to serve as an Air Vice-Marshal in the RAAF active reserve. John is currently working on a companion history that covers RAAF and RNZAF experience as Coastal Command’s ANZAC Strike Wing.

Industry Reviews

‘the CLASSIC F/A-18A/B Hornet Aircraft in Australian Service is one of the very best on aviation I have come across. It’s just gobsmackingly well-researched but reads incredibly well.
The book is the absolute authority on the aircraft.’ – Adam Thorn, Editor, Australian Aviation Magazine


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