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Progress On The Hornet Capability Upgrade

Full rate production is planned for up to 39 aircraft in Australia once the Hornet industry Coalition has developed a mature supply pipeline and industrial capacity, and has recruited and trained additional skilled workforce.
by Staff Writers
Canberra, Australia (SPX) Aug 27, 2007
An important milestone has been achieved with the recent completion of the first centre barrel replacement for Australia's F/A- 18 Hornets. The centre barrel replacement program will allow the life of the Australian Hornet fleet to be extended to 2018 and potentially beyond.

The F/A -18 Hornet is a key element of the air combat capability employed in the defence of Australia. Other users of the Hornet; such as Canada and the United States Navy, are undertaking similar programs for their Hornet fleets.

The centre barrel is the major structural element of the aircraft to which the wings and main undercarriage are attached. The centre barrel is susceptible to structural fatigue from wing and main undercarriage mechanical loads.

The prototype aircraft was disassembled in Australia and shipped to Canada where the centre barrel was successfully replaced. The initial low rate production of nine aircraft will continue in Canada following the successful prototype.

The prototype aircraft has been returned to Australia for reassembly by the Hornet Industry Coalition at RAAF Base Williamtown, near Newcastle.

Full rate production is planned for up to 39 aircraft in Australia once the Hornet industry Coalition has developed a mature supply pipeline and industrial capacity, and has recruited and trained additional skilled workforce.

The prototyping activity demonstrated the complexity of the centre barrel work, with up to 25,000 replacement spare parts required for each centre barrel replacement. This has emphasised the need for a specialised workforce, facilities and equipment.

Disassembly and reassembly work will continue at Williamtown. Importantly, the requirement to conduct additional aircraft work in Canada has no impact on the current Australian workforce.

The centre barrel replacement will ensure the Hornets continue to perform at their peak until withdrawal from service.

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