All-weather fighter and attack aircraft. The single-seat F/A-18 Hornet is the nation's first strike-fighter. It was designed for traditional strike applications such as interdiction and close air support without compromising its fighter capabilities. With its excellent fighter and self-defense capabilities, the F/A-18 at the same time increases strike mission survivability and supplements the F-14 Tomcat in fleet air defense. F/A-18 Hornets are currently operating in 37 tactical squadrons from air stations world-wide, and from 10 aircraft carriers. The U.S. Navy's Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Squadron proudly flies them. The Hornet comprises the aviation strike force for seven foreign customers including Canada, Australia, Finland, Kuwait, Malaysia, Spain and Switzerland.
Features: The F/A-18 Hornet, an all-weather aircraft, is used as an attack aircraft as well as a fighter. In its fighter mode, the F/A-18 is used primarily as a fighter escort and for fleet air defense; in its attack mode, it is used for force projection, interdiction and close and deep air support.
Background: The F/A-18 demonstrated its capabilities and versatility during Operation Desert Storm, shooting down enemy fighters and subsequently bombing enemy targets with the same aircraft on the same mission, and breaking all records for tactical aircraft in availability, reliability, and maintainability.
Hornets taking direct hits from surface-to-air missiles, recovering successfully, being repaired quickly, and flying again the next day proved the aircraft's survivability. The F/A-18A and C are single seat aircraft. The F/A-18B and D are dual-seat aircraft. The B model is used primarily for training, while the D model is the current Navy aircraft for attack, tactical air control, forward air control and reconnaissance squadrons. The newest models are the Super Hornets, the E and F, which were rolled out at McDonnell-Douglas Sept. 17, 1995. The E is a single seat while the F is a two-seat aircraft.
All F/A-18s can be configured quickly to perform either fighter or attack roles or both, through selected use of external equipment to accomplish specific missions. This "force multiplier" capability gives the operational commander more flexibility in employing tactical aircraft in a rapidly changing battle scenario. The fighter missions are primarily fighter escort and fleet air defense; while the attack missions are force projection, interdiction, and close and deep air support.
The F/A-18C and D models are the result of a block upgrade in 1987 incorporating provisions for employing updated missiles and jamming devices against enemy ordnance. C and D models delivered since 1989 also include an improved night attack capability. The E and F models have built on the proven effectiveness of the A through D aircraft. The Super Hornet provides aircrew the capability and performance necessary to face 21st century threats.
General Characteristics, C and D models
Primary Function: Multi-role attack and fighter aircraft
Contractor: Prime: McDonnell Douglas; Major Subcontractor: Northrop
Unit Cost: $29 million
Propulsion: Two F404-GE-402 enhanced performance turbofan engines
Thrust: 17,700 pounds static thrust per engine
Length: 56 feet (16.8 meters)
Height: 15 feet 4 inches (4.6 meters)
Maximum Take Off Gross Weight: 51,900 pounds (23,537 kg)
Wingspan: 40 feet 5 inches (13.5 meters)
Combat: 1,089 nautical miles (1252.4 miles/2,003 km), clean plus two AIM-9s
Ferry: 1,546 nautical miles (1777.9 miles/2,844 km), two AIM-9s plus three 330 gallon tanks
Ceiling: 50,000+ feet
Speed: Mach 1.7+
A and C models: One
B and D models: Two
Armament: One M61A1/A2 Vulcan 20mm cannon;
External payload: AIM 9 Sidewinder, AIM 7 Sparrow, AIM-120 AMRAAM, Harpoon, Harm, SLAM, SLAM-ER, Maverick missiles; Joint Stand-Off Weapon (JSOW); Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM); various general purpose bombs, mines and rockets. See the F/A-18 weapons load-out page.
First flight - November 1978
Operational - October 1983 (A/B models); September 1987 (C/D models);