F/A-18 Hornet

f_a_18_super_hornet_by_makivic-d5g39ve.jpgThe McDonnell Douglas now Boeing F/A-18 Hornet is a supersonic, all-weather carrier-capable multirole fighter jet, designed to dogfight and attack ground targets (F/A for Fighter/Attack). The F/A-18 was derived from the YF-17 in the 1970s for use by the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. The Hornet is also used by the air forces of several other nations. It has been the aerial demonstration aircraft for the U.S. Navy’s Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, since 1986.

The fighter’s primary missions are fighter escort, fleet air defense, suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD), air interdiction, close air support, and aerial reconnaissance. Its versatility and reliability have proven it to be a valuable carrier asset, though it has been criticized for its lack of range and payload compared to its earlier contemporaries, such as the F-14 Tomcat in the fighter and strike fighter role, and the A-6 Intruder and A-7 Corsair II in the attack role.

Free Report

F/A-18 Hornet provided the baseline design for the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, a larger, evolutionary redesign of the F/A-18. Compared to the Hornet, the Super Hornet is larger and heavier and has improved range and payload capability. The F/A-18E/F was originally proposed as an alternative to a completely new aircraft to replace existing dedicated attack aircraft such as the A-6. The larger variant was also directed to replace the aging F-14 Tomcat, thus serving a complementary role with Hornets in the U.S. Navy, and serving a wider range of roles including refueling tanker, and electronic jamming platform.

General Characteristics of the F/A-18 Hornet

  • Crew: F/A-18C: 1, F/A-18D: 2 (pilot and weapons system officer)
  • Length: 56 ft (17.1 m)
  • Wingspan: 40 ft (12.3 m)
  • Height: 15 ft 4 in (4.7 m)
  • Wing area: 400 ft² (38 m²)
  • Airfoil: NACA 65A005 mod root, 65A003.5 mod tip
  • Empty weight: 23,000 lb (10,400 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 36,970 lb (16,770 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 51,900 lb (23,500 kg)
  • Power plant: 2× General Electric F404-GE-402 turbofans
    • Dry thrust: 11,000 lbf (48.9 kN) each
    • Thrust with afterburner: 17,750 lbf (79.2 kN) each

F/A-18 Hornet Performance

  • Maximum speed: Mach 1.8 (1,190 mph, 1,915 km/h) at 40,000 ft (12,190 m)
  • Range: 1,089 nmi (1,250 miles, 2,000 km) with only two AIM-9s
  • Combat radius: 400 nmi (460 mi, 740 km) on air-air mission
  • Ferry range: 1,800 nmi (2,070 mi, 3,330 km)
  • Service ceiling: 50,000 ft (15,240 m)
  • Rate of climb: 50,000 ft/min (254 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 93 lb/ft² (454 kg/m²)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.96

F/A-18 Hornet Armament

  • Guns: 1× 20 mm (0.787 in) M61 Vulcan nose mounted 6-barreled Gatling cannon, 578 rounds
  • Hard points: 9 total: 2× wingtips missile launch rail, 4× under-wing, and 3× under-fuselage with a capacity of 13,700 lb (6,215 kg) external fuel and ordnance
  • Rockets:
    • 2.75 inches (70 mm) Hydra 70 rockets
    • 5 in (127.0 mm) Zuni rockets
  • Missiles:
    • Air-to-air missiles:
      • 4× AIM-9 Sidewinder or 4× AIM-132 ASRAAM or 4× IRIS-T or 4× AIM-120 AMRAAM, and
      • 2× AIM-7 Sparrow or additional 2× AIM-120 AMRAAM
    • Air-to-surface missiles:
      • AGM-65 Maverick
      • Standoff Land Attack Missile (SLAM-ER)
      • AGM-88 HARM Anti-radiation missile (ARM)
      • AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW)
      • Taurus missile (Cruise missile)
    • Anti-ship missile:
      • AGM-84 Harpoon
  • Bombs:
  • Others:
    • SUU-42A/A Flares/Infrared decoys dispenser pod and chaff pod or
    • Electronic countermeasures (ECM) pod or
    • AN/AAS-38 Nite Hawk Targeting pods (U.S. Navy only), to be replaced by AN/ASQ-228 ATFLIR or
    • LITENING targeting pod (USMC, Royal Australian Air Force, Spanish Air Force, and Finnish Air Force only) or
    • Up to 3× 330 US gal (1,200 l; 270 imp gal) Sargent Fletcher drop tanks for ferry flight or extended range/loitering time.

F/A-18 Hornet Avionics

  • Hughes APG-73 radar
  • ROVER (Remotely Operated Video-Enhanced Receiver) antenna for use by the U.S. Navy’s F/A-18C strike fighter squadrons
  • Inertial navigation system
  • GPS
  • Two mission computers
  • HUD cockpit display
  • Very high-frequency Omni-directional landing system
  • Multiple-functioning Cathode ray tube display