The Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) six F/A-18F Super Hornet multi-role fighter aircraft are set to return home after completing their high tempo air-strike operations against the Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq in the near future.
The aircraft are assigned to RAAF Base Amberley’s Number 1 Squadron, along with 400 RAAF personnel, E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning, and control and the KC-30A multi-role tanker transport. They were deployed to Al Minhad air base in the UAE in September 2014.
As part of US-led coalition air operations, the two-seat Super Hornets flew more than 2900 hours, accounting for in excess of 400 sorties, to support the Iraqi Security Forces and prevent IS from accumulating troops.
The aircraft have been replaced by the single-seat F/A-18A Hornets from Number 75 Squadron, which form part of the second Australian contingent that recently relieved the first Air Task Group (ATG) of its duty to combat IS militants.
RAAF Air Task Group commander air commodore Glen Braz said the new strike team had completed a comprehensive transition and was currently flying combat air operations.
"The last two weeks have been a particularly busy period for the ATG with the current Super Hornet rotation continuing to perform missions together with the new strike element.
"During the transition, having two outstanding fighter squadrons fly together in combat is a historic milestone for the RAAF."
The F/A-18A Hornet aircrew are believed to have completed familiarisation flights prior to assuming full operational responsibility.
Australia currently has approximately 600 Australian Defence Force personnel deployed to the Middle East to support the US-led international coalitions to disrupt and degrade IS, which controls large swathe of Iraq and Syria.