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F/A-18 Hornet

Boeing (McDonnell Douglas)

posted by Jiri Wagner

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 F/A-18E 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.

General characteristics F/A-18C

Primary function Multi-role attack and fighter aircraft
Contractor McDonnell Douglas; main subcontractor: Northrop
Power plant Two F404-GE-400 enhanced performance turbofan engines
Thrust 2x 16,000 lb 2x 71.2 kN
Length 56 ft 17.07 m
Height 15 ft 4 in 4.66 m
Wingspan 37.5 ft 11.43 m
Weight empty 23,050 lb 10,455 kg
max. takeoff 56,000 lb 25,401 kg
Combat radius fighter escort 460 miles 740 km
attack 634 miles 1,020 km
Max. range 2,190 miles 3,520 km
Ceiling 50,000 ft 15,000 m
Max. speed more than Mach 1.8 1,912 km/h
Internal tanks capacity 11,000 lb 4,990 kg
Armament One 20mm MK-61A1 Vulcan 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.
Unit cost $24 million


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