The Australian Federal Government has approved the consolidation of the Royal Australian Air Force’s F/A-18A/B Hornet structural refurbishment programmes under the First Pass Approval for Project AIR 5431 Phase 1.

The consolidation of a range of refurbishment work on the F/A-18A/B Hornets into a combined programme is estimated to save more than $500m compared to the previously planned approach.

The refurbishment programme, which has cost-capped expenditure of between $250m and $300m, is expected to deliver the same enhanced capability result.

Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith said the consolidated programme would help to ensure that the RAAF Hornets continue as a key element of the Australian Defence Force’s air combat capability until they are replaced by the Joint Strike Fighter.

Smith said the consolidated refurbishment programme would offer ongoing opportunities for the Australian industry, according to Australian Defence Magazine.