Boeing F/A-18 Hornet

Aircraft Profile
 

Key Facts

Main Role:
Multi-role Attack and Fighter aircraft
Configuration:
Delta-winged jet
Country:
United States
Current Status:
In Service, In Production

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Canadian CF-188A “917”. Seen at the London, Canada air show 1999.

Development

The F/A-18 Hornet is an all-weather aircraft used as both an attack and fighter aircraft. As a fighter, the Hornet is used as a fighter escort and for fleet air defense. In its attack role, it is used for interdiction and air support.

The F/A-18 Hornet is a twin engine, mid-wing, multi-role tactical aircraft. The F/A-18A and C are single seat aircraft and the F/A-18B and D are two-seaters. While the B aircraft is used mainly for training the D version is the current Navy aircraft performing the forward air control, reconnaissance, tactical air control and attack roles. The latest E and F models were rolled out in September 1995. The E being the single seater.

The F/A-18 Hornet was designed to meet a requirement for a multi-role combat aircraft to replace the ground attack role of the A-7 Corsair, and the air defense and ground attack role of the F-4 Phantom. It also had to be a low cost complement to the F-14 Tomcat and be able to operate from forward airstrips for the US Marine Corps.

The Hornets origins go back to the 1960’s and Northrop’s Light-Weight Fighter project that eventually led to the YF-17 prototype. The YF-17’s first flight was on 9th June 1974. After the YF-16 was chosen by the USAF, US Congress decided to evaluate two aircraft for the Naval Air Combat Fighter (ACF) project. The YF-17 was not initially designed for carrier operation, so Northrop collaborated with McDonnell Douglas to win the competition with General Dynamics and LTV. After modifications by the two companies, the YF-17 became “model 267” and on 2nd May 1975, the US Navy declared the aircraft the winner. It is from this point that the Hornet becomes a McDonnell Douglas aircraft as they were the prime contractors. Originally there were two types – the F-18 and the A-18, but a Defense Systems Acquisition Review decided, on 8th December 1982, to call the aircraft the F/A-18. It is the only aircraft in services with US forces to have a dual designation. On 1st January 1977, Secretary of the Navy, W. Graham Claytor decided to call the F/A-18 “Hornet” after the USN ships with the same name.

The Hornet has been regularly upgraded since entering service in 1983. The first F/A-18’s equipped with night strike capability were delivered in November 1989. Since 1991, they have had F404-GE-402 enhanced performance engines fitted and since May 1994, the Hornet has been fitted with upgraded APG-73 radar.

Canada was the first export customer for the Hornet and it has the largest fleet of Hornets outside the US. The Canadian F/A-18’s are designated CF-188 by that country.

Variants

Requirement Specification: ?
Manufacturers Designation: ?

Development History:
YF-17 First prototype manufactured by Northrop and competed against YF-16 in the USAF competition.
YF-17 model 267 Northrop/McDonnell Douglas joint prototype.
F-18 Initial designation of dedicated fighter version.
A-18 Initial designation of dedicated strike/attack version.
F/A-18 Revised designation when common airframe selected for both fighter and attack missions. McDonnell Douglas led programme.
YF/A-18A Unofficial designation for the first nine single-seat development aircraft.
F/A-18A First model in the Hornet range of single seat fighter attack aircraft.
TF-18A Initial designation of F/A-18B two-seater.
F/A-18B Two seat, dual-control variant of the ‘A’ model. Combat capable but only used for training.
F/A-18L The ‘L’ refers to this being a ‘Land’ variant of the F/A-18A. Northrop led programme. It never went into production.
TF/A-18L Two seat, dual-control variant of the ‘L’ model.
RF-18A Initial designation for F/A-18(R).
F/A-18(R) Planned reconnaissance version of the production F/A-18A, with recce camera system replacing M61A1 cannon in bulged nose. One test aircraft converted. Development cancelled.
CF-18A McDonnell Douglas designation for single seat version for the Canadian Armed Forces. Fitted with spotlight on port side of nose.
CF-188A Canadian Armed Forces designation for single seat version.
CF-18B McDonnell Douglas designation for two seat version for Canada.
CF-188B Canadian Armed Forces designation for two seat version.
AF-18A Single seat version for the R.A.A.F.
AF-18B Two seat version for R.A.A.F. Also referred to as the ATF-18A.
EF-18A Single seat version for the Spanish Air Force. Designated C.15 by the Spanish.
EF-15B Two seat version for the Spanish Air Force. Designated CE.15 in Spain.
F/A-18C Improved and updated version of the ‘A’ model. Revised and updated avionics fit, Martin Baker NACES ejection seat, ability to fire AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles, addition of small strakes on wing LERXs.
F/A-18C Night Attack Improved version with colour cockpit displays, night vision goggles compatible cockpit and external FLIR pod.
F/A-18C Night Attack Late production F/A-18C aircraft (June 1994 onwards) have AN/APG-73 radar in place of the previous AN/APG-65 unit.
F/A-18D Two seat combat capable version of the ‘C’ model.
F/A-18D+ Original designation for F/A-18D Night Attack.
F/A-18D Night Attack F/A-18D with night attack avonics fit from FA-18C Night Attack. Dedicated attack aircraft. Rear cockpit has sidestick weapons controllers in place of control column.
F/A-18D(RC) Reconnaissance Capable version of F/A-18D with wiring for ATARS recce pod. Retains night attack mission capability.
KAF-18C/D Unofficial designation for the F/A-18C and D Hornets supplied to the Kuwaiti Air Force.
F/A-18E Super Hornet Enlarged version of F/A-18C to replace F-14 Tomcat. Lengthened fuselage, larger wing and tailplane, rectangular air intakes for new F404 engines but F/A-18C standard avionics fit.
F/A-18F Super Hornet Two seat combat capable version of F/A-18E.
F/A-18G “Growler” Projected Electronic Warfare version of F/A-18D to replace EA-6B Prowler.

History

Key Dates:
9th June 1974    First flight of YF-17.
2nd May 1975    YF-17 Model 267 declared winner of competition.
1st March 1977    Named “Hornet” by the Secretary of the Navy.
18 November 1978    Maiden flight of first F/A-18A.
May 1980    First deliveries to US Navy operational test and evaluation force.
August 1982    First deliveries to a service unit – VMFA-314.
7 January 1983    VMFA-314 declared operational.
15 August 1984    Maiden flight of F/A-18(R) test aircraft.
3 September 1986    Maiden flight of first F/A-18C.
1 November 1989    Delivery of first F/A-18C Night Attack version.
15 April 1992    Maiden flight of first AN/APG-73 equipped F/A-18C.
1987    ‘Blue Angels’ aerial display team debut with the F/A-18.
29 November 1995    Maiden flight of first F/A-18E Super Hornet.
late 1998    First production delivery of F/A-18E/F to US Navy.
2002    First carrier air wing cruise for F/A-18E/F.
EF/A-18A C.15-36 from Ala 15 of the Spanish Air
Force. (photo, Anthony Noble)

Operators

Military Operators

U.S. Navy & Reserve (31 Sqns with F/A-18A/B/C/D, 2 Sqns with F/A-18E/F)
U.S. Marine Corps & Reserve (21 Sqns. with F/A-18A/C/D)
Australia – Air Force (4 Sqns. with 57 AF-18A and 18 AF-18B)
Canada – Armed Forces (5 Sqns. with 98 CF-188A and 40 CF-188B)
Finland – Air Force (57 F/A-18C and 7 F/A-18D)
Kuwait – Air Force (2 Sqns. with 32 KAF-18C and 8 KAF-18D)
Malaysia – Air Force (8 F/A-18D)
Spain – Air Force (4 Sqns with 60 EF-18A and 12 EF-18B)
Switzerland – Air Force (26 F/A-18C and 8 F/A-18D)

Government Agencies

NASA F/A-18B

Civilian Operators

None  

Specifications

Boeing F/A-18A Hornet
Crew: One (Two in F/A-18B)
Dimensions: Length 56 ft 0 in (17.07 m); Height 15 ft 3.5 in (4.66 m); Wing Span 37 ft 6 in (11.43 m) without wingtip AAMs, 40 ft 4.75 in (12.31 m) with wingtip AAMs; Wing Area 400.00 sq ft (37.16 sq m)
Engines: Two General Electric F404-GE-400 turbofans each rated at 16,000 lb st (71.17 kN) with afterburning
Weights: Empty Equipped 28,600 lb (12,973 kg); Normal Take-off 33,585 lb (15,234 kg) on a fighter mission; Maximum Take-off 48,253 lb (21,888 kg) for an attack mission
Performance: Maximum level speed ‘clean’ 1,033+ kts (1,190 mph, 1915 kph) at high altitude; Maximum rate of climb at sea level 45,000 ft/min (13715 m/min); Combat ceiling 50,000 ft (15,240 m); Ferry range with drop tanks 1,800+ nm (2,073 mls, 3,336 km); Combat radius on a fighter mission 400 nm (460 mls, 740 km) or 575 nm (662 mls, 1065 km) on an attack mission
Armament: M61A1 20-mm Vulcan cannon in the nose with 570 rounds in a drum tank located below the gun and behind the radar. Four AIM-9M Sidewinders carried on the sides of the wing pylons, two on each side. (This arrangement allows a drop tank or bombs to be carried at the same time). Up to 15,500 lb (7030 kg) of bombs, fuel tanks and missiles can be carried on 9 external stores stations – four wing pylons, 2 engine nacelle ‘corner’ stations, one fuselage centre-line hardpoint and one launch rail on each wingtip.
Boeing F/A-18C Hornet
Crew: One (Two in F/A-18D)
Dimensions: Length 56 ft 0 in (17.07 m); Height 15 ft 3.5 in (4.66 m); Wing Span 37 ft 6 in (11.43 m) without wingtip AAMs, 40 ft 4.75 in (12.31 m) with wingtip AAMs; Wing Area 400.00 sq ft (37.16 sq m)
Engines: Two General Electric F404-GE-400 turbofans each rated at 16,000 lb st (71.17 kN) with afterburning or (early 1992+ production) F404-GE-402 turbofans each rated at 17,700 lb st (78.73 kN) with afterburning
Weights: Empty 23,050 lb (10,455 kg); Normal Take-off 36,710 lb (16,652 kg) for a fighter mission or 51,900 lb (23,541 kg) for an attack mission; Maximum Take-off 56,000 lb (25,401 kg)
Performance: Maximum level speed ‘clean’ 1,033+ kts (1,190 mph, 1915 kph) at high altitude; Maximum rate of climb at sea level 45,000 ft/min (13715 m/min); Combat ceiling 50,000 ft (15,240 m); Ferry range with drop tanks 1,800+ nm (2,073 mls, 3,336 km); Combat radius on a fighter mission 400 nm (460 mls, 740 km) or 575 nm (662 mls, 1065 km) on an attack mission
Armament: M61A1 20-mm Vulcan cannon in the nose with 570 rounds in a drum tank located below the gun and behind the radar. Four AIM-9M Sidewinders carried on the sides of the wing pylons, two on each side. (This arrangement allows a drop tank or bombs to be carried at the same time). Up to 15,500 lb (7030 kg) of bombs, fuel tanks and missiles can be carried on 9 external stores stations – four wing pylons, 2 engine nacelle ‘corner’ stations, one fuselage centre-line hardpoint and one launch rail on each wingtip.
Boeing F/A-18E Super Hornet
Crew: One (Two in F/A-18F)
Dimensions: Length 60 ft 1.25 in (18.31 m); Height 15 ft 9.5 in (4.82 m); Wing Span 41 ft 10.25 in (12.76 m) without wingtip AAMs, 44 ft 8.5 in (13.62 m) with wingtip AAMs; Wing Area 500.00 sq ft (37.16 sq m)
Engines: Two General Electric F414-GE-400 turbofans each rated at 22,000 lb st (97.86 kN) with afterburning
Weights: Empty Equipped 30,600 lb (13,880 kg); Maximum Take-off 66,000 lb (29,937 kg)
Performance: Maximum level speed ‘clean’ 1,033+ kts (1,190 mph, 1915 kph) at high altitude; Combat ceiling 50,000 ft (15,240 m); Combat radius on an attack mission 591 nm (681 mls, 1095 km).
Armament: M61A1 20-mm Vulcan cannon in the nose with 570 rounds in a drum tank located below the gun and behind the radar. Four AIM-9M Sidewinders carried on the sides of the wing pylons, two on each side. (This arrangement allows a drop tank or bombs to be carried at the same time). Up to 17,750 lb (8050 kg) of bombs, fuel tanks and missiles can be carried on 11 external stores stations – six wing pylons, 2 engine nacelle ‘corner’ stations, one fuselage centre-line hardpoint and one launch rail on each wingtip.

Production

Design Centre

Head of Design Team: ?
Programme Manager: ?
Design Office: McDonnell Douglas Corporation, St Louis, Missouri.

Manufacture

McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Corporation (MCAir)
(Box 516, St Louis, MO 63166, USA. Later Boeing Military Aircraft)
Version Quantity Assembly Location Time Period
F/A-18A/B EMD 9/2 St Louis, MO 1978-March 1980
F/A-18A 371 St Louis, MO 1980-1986
F/A-18B 40 St Louis, MO 1980-1986
CF-18A 98 St Louis, MO 1982-Sept 1988
CF-18B 40 St Louis, MO 1982-Sept 1988
EF-18A 60 St Louis, MO 1986-1990
EF-18B 12 St Louis, MO 1986-1990
F/A-18C 355 St Louis, MO 1986-1998
F/A-18C Swiss 2 St Louis, MO 1994-1995
F/A-18D 80+ St Louis, MO 1986-1985
F/A-18D Fin 7 St Louis, MO 1994-1995
F/A-18D Malay 8 St Louis, MO 1996-1997
KAF-18C 32 St Louis, MO 1992-Sept 1993
KAF-18D 8 St Louis, MO 1992-Sept 1993
F/A-18E EMD 5* St Louis, MO 1995-1997
F/A-18F EMD 2 St Louis, MO 1995-1996
F/A-18E 500+ St Louis, MO Sept 1997-2015
F/A-18F 500+ St Louis, MO Sept 1997-2015
Total: ?    

* 3 ground test airframes also manufactured.

ASTA – Aerospace Technologies of Australia
(ASTA, Avalon, Victoria, Australia)
Version Quantity Assembly Location Time Period
AF-18A 57* Avalon 1984-1990
AF-18B 18* Avalon 1984-1990
Total: 75    

* First few a/c assembled from St Louis components.

Valmet
(Valmet, Tampere, Finland – later Finavitec)
Version Quantity Assembly Location Time Period
F/A-18C 57* Tampere 1995-2000
Total: 57    

* All aircraft assembled from St Louis components. 7 F/A-18D also supplied direct from St Louis.

F+W
(F+W, Emmen, Switzerland)
Version Quantity Assembly Location Time Period
F/A-18C 24* Emmen 1995-1997
F/A-18D 8* Emmen 1995-1997
Total: 32    

* All aircraft assembled from St Louis components. 2 F/A-18C also supplied direct from St Louis.

Total Produced: 1478 a/c

Production List

Boeing F/A-18 (Super) Hornet
(Last updated April 2001)

More Information

Books

‘How to Fly and Fight in the F/A-18 Hornet – Jane’s At the Controls, No.2.’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by David C. Isby
Published by HarperCollins, Dec 1997 ISBN: 0 00472 009 1
* Pilots-eye view of the F/A-18.

‘F/A-18 Hornet – A Navy Success Story’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Dennis R Jenkins & Shelley Carr
Published by McGraw-Hill Publishing Company, 31 May 2000 ISBN: 0 07134 696 1
* Good development history. Aviation Week Series.

‘Warbird Tech Vol. 31: Boeing F/A-18 Hornet’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Brad Elward
Published by Speciality Press, 5 July 2001 ISBN: 1 58007 041 8
* Detailed development history with extracts from offical technical manuals.

‘McDonnell Douglas F-18 Hornet – A Photo Chronicle’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Bill Holder & Mike Wallace
Published by Schiffer Publishing, April 1997 ISBN: 0 76430 243 4
* Good pictorial history.

‘F/A-18 Hornet Walkaround’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Lindsay Peacock
Published by Squadron/Signal, June 1999 ISBN: 0 89747 401 5
* Close-up pictorial of external and internal features.

‘F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet Units in Operation Iraqi Freedom (Osprey Combat Aircraft No.46)’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Tony Holmes
Published by Osprey Publishing, 1 July 2004 ISBN: 1 84176 801 4
* Up-to-date coverage of the F/A-18 in combat.

‘Uncovering The Boeing F/A-18 A/B/C/D Hornet’
by Danny Coremans, Nico Deboeck
Published by Daco Publications, July 2004 ISBN: 9 08067 473 7
* Features 700+ colour photos of internal and external details plus scale drawings.

‘The “Air Forces Monthly” Book of the F/A-18 Hornet’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Tim Senior
Published by Key Books Ltd, 26 May 2003 ISBN: 0 94621 969 9
* Highly illustrated profile with good coverage of history, combat use and operators.

‘World Air Power Journal, Volume 1’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
Published by Aerospace Publishing Ltd, May 1990 ISBN: 1 87402 300 X
* Includes ‘Focus Aircraft’ feature on the F/A-18A/B Hornet.

‘World Air Power Journal, Volume 26’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
Published by Aerospace Publishing Ltd, July 1996 ISBN: 1 87402 382 4
* Includes ‘Focus Aircraft’ feature on the F/A-18C/D Hornet.

‘World Air Power Journal, Volume 42’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
Published by Aerospace Publishing Ltd, Nov 1990 ISBN: 1 86184 051 9
* Includes feature on the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

Magazines

To be added.

Links

F/A-18 Hornet
(US Navy Factfile – basic information)

Super Hornet
(Links to some official US Navy info & pics for the F/A-18E/F)

F/A-18 Hornet
(Good overview with specs, pics and links)

F/A-18 Hornet
(Official Boeing F/A-18 page – news, specs, pics etc)

F/A-18 Hornet Project
(Collection of F/A-18 pics)

F/A-18 Hornet
(Boeing photo gallery for F/A-18)

F/A-18E/F Super Hornet
(Defence Technology features of the F/A-18E/F)

U.S. Navy F/A-18 Hornet Wallpaper
(Good quality F/A-18 pics)

McDonnell Douglas
(Military Aviation Photo Gallery – lots of good F/A-18 pics)

Airliners.net
(Lots of “McDonnell Douglas F/A-18” photos)

Airliners.net
(Lots of “Boeing F/A-18” photos)

McDonnell Douglas/Boeing F/A-18 Hornet
(Index page for detailed profile of the F/A-18)

F/A-18 Hornet
(Global Security – good overview of the F/A-18)

Boeing F-18 Hornet
(Links to F/A-18 operators around the world + unofficial information sites)

AXLs Plane Gallery
(Several pages of F/A-18 photos)

F/A-18 Hornet
(Comprehensive and up-to-date profile of the F/A-18)

Shop

Flight Simulator Models:
To be added.

Scale Models:
To be added.

Scale Drawings:
See Daco Publications listed above.

Videos:

‘Sea Wings – The F/A-18 Hornet’ [Order this video from Amazon UK]
DD Video, B00004CS0H, Catalogue Number: DD1225
* 50 minute documentary on the US Navy F/A-18.

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