The anti-ISIS air coalition is a tapestry made up of an ever growing number of nations and aircraft types, and now international F/A-18 Hornet operators are entering the fray. Australia has sent half a dozen F/A-18F Super Hornets, a KC-30A, and an E-7 Wedgetail and Canadian Hornets are on the way.
On October 5th, a pair of RAAF Super Hornets made the type's Australian combat debut, flying sorties over Iraq while strapped with a pair of 500lb JDAMs, a pair of 500lb GBU-12 laser guided bombs, two AIM-9X Sidewinders and three 480 gallon drop tanks.
Although Australia's Block II Super Hornets are some of the most capable fighters in the world, the RAAF's E-7 Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) aircraft brings a very capable airborne command and control element to the coalition. Additionally, Australia's Airbus A330 based KC-30A is the most advanced tanker aircraft in the world and is capable of refueling both 'pobe' and 'receptacle' equipped aircraft on a single mission.
Meanwhile, Canada has also committed a half dozen of their older, but still incredibly potent CF-18s Hornets to the fight. The one thing that these 'legacy' Hornets are not known for is their range, so it is good news that the Canadian contingent will be based right next to Iraq, in the tiny but incredibly rich oil Kingdom of Kuwait. Such close proximity basing means that Canadian Hornets have only 350 miles to travel to be over Baghdad, which is far closer than bases like Al Udeid in Qatar, which is well over double the distance away.
The Netherlands and Belgium have both dispatched a handful of F-16AMs to Jordan (ten and six respectively) where they too will be in close proximity to ISIS held cities and villages in eastern Iraq. On October 5th a Belgium Viper dropped a JDAM on a ISIS position near Baghdad, which marked the Belgian contingent's first strike of the air campaign. Both Dutch and Belgian Vipers are operating out of Azrak, alongside very similar Jordanian F-16AMs, which were purchased by Jordan from both visiting countries over the last decade.
Australia Commonwealth Copyright for images #1-#3. CF-18 image via the RCAF, F-16AM image via the Belgian Air Contingent.
Tyler Rogoway is a defense journalist and photographer who maintains the website Foxtrot Alpha for Jalopnik.com You can reach Tyler with story ideas or direct comments regarding this or any other defense topic via the email address Tyler@Jalopnik.com