The Boeing Defence Australia facility located at Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Williamtown has rolled out F/A-18A/B Classic Hornet aircraft after completion of deeper maintenance servicing.

Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said since 2013, this was the 163rd and final deeper maintenance servicing for the fleet.

Price added that the maintenance work has created more than 150 jobs opportunities for the economy in the Hunter region.

The operations have also generated an additional 140,000 flying hours for the Classic Hornets, contributing A$200m ($139m) to the Australian economy.

The Classic Hornets will be progressively replaced by the F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).

Introduced into service in 1985, the fleet of 75 Classic Hornet will see 36 years of service by the planned withdrawal in December next year.

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In order to secure these local Hunter jobs, Boeing will continue to provide logistics, engineering and maintenance support through to the planned withdrawal date.

Price further added: “Boeing will also assist defence to prepare retired Classic Hornet aircraft for heritage display within Australia and potential sale to foreign customers.

“This continued effort will assist in retaining a highly skilled Hunter region aviation workforce until there is a requirement for F-35A Lightning II sustainment, which will also be based at RAAF Base Williamtown.”

In March, the RAAF Base Williamtown agreed to sell its retired F/A-18 Classic Hornet aircraft to training company Air USA.

Last month, the Australian Government provided funding to three companies to increase their involvement in the global JSF F-35 programme and continue to the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.