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Role: Multi-role fighter , attack aircraft
Builder:
McDonnell Douglas, Boeing
Variants: F/A-18A, F/A-18B (two-seater), F/A-18C, F/A-18D (two seat), F/A-18E, F/A-18F (two seat), CF-18, EF-18A, RF-18
Operators: US Navy, US Marine Corps, Australia, Canada, Finland, Kuwait, Malaysia, Spain, Switzerland

The F/A-18 Hornet is a twin engine combat aircraft capable of carrying out both air-to-ground as air-to-air missions. Originally designed for the US Navy it can also operate from aircraft carriers. The F/A-18 is a true multi-role aircraft capable of a wide variety of roles: air superiority, fighter escort, suppression of enemy air defences, reconnaissance, forward air control, close and deep air support, and day and night strike missions at almost all weather conditions. Despite its marginal range, the F/A-18 Hornet has become a valuable asset for the Carrier Battle Group.

The F/A-18 has a digital fly-by-wire flight control system to improve the aircraft's handling, manoeuvrability and allows the pilot to concentrate on operating the weapons system. The cockpit is equipped with three multi function displays. The F/A-18 has a good thrust-to-weight ratio, superior turn characteristics and great energy sustainability compared to other fighters of its time. The entire avionics suite is digital which enables easy upgrades and software changes.

F/A-18A/B were the first single and two seat production aircraft, which were followed by F/A-18C/D variants. Although the single seat variants, A and C, were first equipped with the AN/APG-65 radar, since 1994 all US Hornets feature the improved AN/APG-73 radar. The second seat of the B and D models is often manned by a weapon system operator or instructor. The CF-18 is the designation used for the Canadian licensed built aircraft. Other designations for the F/A-18 Hornet are the EF-18A Growler which will replace US Navy EA-6B Prowler electronic warfare aircraft and the RF-18 which is a dedicated reconnaissance version. The EF-18 designation is also used for Spanish F/A-18A/B Hornets where the E stands for Espanga. The F/A-18 designation is used to reflect the aircraft's multi-mission capability, but often it is called just F-18. Although the F/A-18 designation is used in official US Navy and Department of Defence documents, FA-18 is the registered designation for the type.

The F/A-18E/F variants are the single and two seat version of the Super Hornet. The Super Hornet is the latest generation of the F/A-18 which is much improved. It has new engines, bigger air intakes, the airframe itself is much longer. Weapon systems are much improved, as well as a better radar. A larger internal fuel capacity and larger ordnance carrying capacity improves the range significantly. F/A-18F Super Hornets with a WSO in the rear seat are replacing the F-14 Tomcat. Critics see this as a step back for the US Navy in fleet defence because of the smaller range of the Super Hornet and its weapons compared to the F-14 and its long range AIM-54.

 

Technical Specifications

 

F/A-18A

 

Powerplant:

two General Electric F404-GE400 turbofans each rated 71.17 kN (16,000 lb st) with afterburning; or models constructed from early 1992, F404-GE-402 turbofans each rated at 78.73 kN (17,700 lb st) with afterburning.

 

Dimensions:

length 17.07m (56 ft 0 in); height 4.66m (15 ft 3 in); wing span 11.43m (37ft 6 in)

 

Weights:

take-off ('clean') 10.455 kg (23,050 lb); Max Take-Off Weight 25.401 kg (56,000 lb)

 

Performance:

max level speed at high altitude more than Mach 1.8 or 1.915 km/h (1,190 mph); combat ceiling about 15,240m (50,000 ft)

 

Armament:

one 20mm M61A1 Vulcan six-barrel cannon with 570 rounds; 7031 kg (15,500 lb) of disposable stores, including nuclear weapons, ASMs, AAMs, anti-radar missiles, anti-ship missiles, free-fall or guided bombs, cluster bombs, dispenser weapons, rocket launchers, napalm tanks, drop tanks and ECM pods, carried on nine external hardpoints.

 


MCDONNELL DOUGLAS / BOEING F/A-18 HORNET GALLERY