The first batch of next-generation Super Hornets for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) will be delivered by the US by the end of the month.

Aircrew and maintenance personnel of the RAAF’s No. 1 Squadron, which is based at Lemoore Naval Air Station in California, are preparing the aircraft for the series of flights to Australia.

RAAF Chief Air Marshal Mark Binskin said this was the beginning of a new chapter for the air force.

“The Super Hornet is a true multirole aircraft, which, when flown and supported by the RAAF’s high-calibre people, will ensure Australia’s regional air combat capability edge until the introduction of the F-35 joint strike fighter,” he said.

The RAAF will acquire 24 Super Hornets during 2010 and 2011 as an interim replacement for its aging F-111s.

“Another key task for the detachment will be working with an air-to-air tanker, and conducting day and night refuelling flights to ensure readiness for the journey to Australia,” Binskin said.

The Super Hornets will be delivered to RAAF Amberley base near Ipswich.

Developed by Boeing, the F/A-18 Hornet is a supersonic, all-weather carrier-capable multirole fighter jet, designed to attack both ground and aerial targets.