The RAAF’s 82 Wing (82WG), which oversees the operations of the F/A-18F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler aircraft of 1 and 6SQNs has stood up 82 Wing Training Flight (82TF) at Amberley as part a two-year trial to provide Super Hornet conversion training in Australia.
Currently RAAF crews converting to the Super Hornet and Growler do so with the US Navy at NAS Oceana in Virginia and NAS Whidbey Island in Washington state, respectively. This arrangement was implemented in 2015 after 6SQN – the RAAF’s former Super Hornet training unit – converted to the Growler and transferred all of its Super Hornets to 1SQN.
At the same time, the expanded 1SQN stood up a third ‘training’ flight within the squadron to conduct refreshers and upgrades, but this responsibility will be transferred to 82TF.
“This program will enable No. 82 Wing to provide enduring aircrew training for the entire capability spectrum required for the F/A-18F,” OC82TF and XO82WG, WGCDR Wing Commander Trevor Andrews said in a release. “We expect significant advantages to be realised through an Australian-based operational conversion, such as improved delivery of Australian-trained aircrew back into the squadrons, increased standardisation, reduction in duplicate training overheads and increased alignment to Australian graduation requirements.”
While some RAAF Super Hornet training will continue with the US Navy, it will look to streamline the conversion training process locally for some crews coming from the Introductory Fighter Course with 76SQN. This has advantages by immediately going to Australian-specific radio and airspace procedures and Australian concepts of operations, none of which are taught by the US Navy.
Most of the RAAF’s Super Hornets don’t have a stick and throttle quadrant in the rear seat, and are instead typically configured for sensor operation and weapons employment. But all Super Hornets can quickly be reconfigured with a stick and throttle to meet training requirements.