The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has expanded the terms of its contract with Boeing Defence Australia to continue providing sustainment services to the service’s F/A-18A/B Classic Hornet aircraft fleet until December 2021.

Valued at close to $145m, the Classic Hornet Sustainment Support contract has been extended to include ongoing engineering, logistics, and maintenance sustainment support.

Under the expanded commercial arrangement, Boeing will continue to support Australia’s current fleet of 71 Classic Hornets.

Commenting on the contract extension, Australia Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne said: “It will secure ongoing employment for approximately 80 additional workers based in Newcastle and Hunter regions of New South Wales.

“This contract amendment expands the volume of work and continues a highly successful partnership with Boeing Defence Australia and its subcontractors.

“As well as securing continued support for Australia's air combat capability, this revised arrangement will restructure Classic Hornet aircraft support to align with the First Principles Review outcomes and allow defence to redirect resources to transition support to newer capabilities, like the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter and EA-18G Growler.”

The company will work alongside existing Commonwealth and industry partners to deliver optimal sustainment support services across all aspects of the Classic Hornet platform.

Boeing Defence Australia vice-president and managing director Darren Edwards said: “The Classic Hornet fleet is an integral part of Australia’s air combat capability and the Boeing Defence Australia team will play a critical role in maximising aircraft availability.

“This new operating model is a testament to the integrated and trusted partnership between Boeing and the Commonwealth, as platform stewards, to provide vital support services to the Australian Classic Hornet fleet.”

"The Boeing Defence Australia team will play a critical role in maximising aircraft availability."

In 2014, BAE Systems completed the decade-long maintenance and modification support contract for the F/A-18 Classic Hornet fleet of Australia.

During the programme that started in June 2003, the company maintained 65 of the RAAF's 71 Classic Hornets and completed more than one million hours of maintenance.

Both F/A-18A and F/A-18B Hornets are multi-role fighter aircraft that are capable of air-to-air and air-to-ground missions.

The single seat F/A-18A and twin seat F/A-18B can be used for air interception, air combat, close air support of ground troops, and interdiction of enemy supply lines, including shipping.

Image: RAAF’s F/A-18A/B Classic Hornet. Photo: courtesy of the Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence.