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. It is proudly flown by the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Squadron.
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.
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.
The aircraft's survivability was proven by Hornets taking direct hits from surface-to-air missiles, recovering successfully, being repaired quickly, and flying again the next day. The F/A-18 is a twin engine, mid-wing, multi-mission tactical aircraft. The F/A-18A and C are single seat aircraft. The F/A-18B and D are dual-seaters. 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, the E and F were rolled out at McDonnell Douglas on Sept. 17, 1995, and are currently undergoing further testing at the Patuxent Naval Air Station in Maryland. The E is a single seat while the F is a two-seater.
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.
Primary Function: Multi-role attack and fighter aircraft
Contractor: Prime: McDonnell Douglas; Major Subcontractor: Northrop
Unit Cost: $ 24 million
Propulsion: Two F404-GE-402 enhanced performance turbofan engines
Thrust: 17,700 pounds (8,027 kg) 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)
Range (w/external tanks):
Fighter: 1,379 nautical miles (1585.9 miles/2,537 km);
Attack: 1,333 nautical miles (1532.9 miles/2,453 km)
Ceiling: 50,000+ feet
Speed: Mach 1.7+
A,C and E models: One
B,D and F models: Two
Armament: One M61A1/A2 Vulcan 20mm cannon;
External payload: AIM 9 Sidewinder, AIM 7 Sparrow, AIM-120 AMRAAM, Harpoon, Harm, Shrike, SLAM, SLAM-ER, Walleye, Maverick missiles; Joint Stand-Off Weapon (JSOW); Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM); various general purpose bombs, mines and rockets.
First flight, November 1978
Operational, October 1983 (A/B models); September 1987 (C/D models)