F/A-18 Hornet: Aircraft profile

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All-weather fighter and attack aircraft. The single-seat F/A-18 Hornet is the nation's first strike-fighter.

F/A-18 Hornet: An F/A-18C Hornet assigned to the Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 37 performs a supersonic pass.F/A-18 Hornet: An F/A-18C Hornet assigned to the Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 37 performs a supersonic pass.

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. The U.S. Navy's Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Squadron proudly flies them. The Hornet comprises the aviation strike force for seven foreign customers including Canada, Australia, Finland, Kuwait, Malaysia, Spain and Switzerland.

The newest model, Super Hornet, is highly capable across the full mission spectrum: air superiority, fighter escort, reconnaissance, aerial refueling, close air support, air defense suppression and day/night precision strike. Compared to the original F/A-18 A through D models, Super Hornet has longer range, an aerial refueling capability, increased survivability/lethality and improved carrier suitability. [Capability of precision-guided munitions: JDAM (all variants) and JSOW. JASSM in the future]

Features

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.

F/A-18 Hornet: In the skies over Afghanistan (March 19, 2002) -- A U.S. Navy F/A-18 “Hornet” assigned to the "Knighthawks" of Strike Fighter Squadron One Three Six (VFA-136) conducts a patrol mission over Afghanistan. Kennedy and her embarked Carrier Air Wing Seven (CVW-7) are conducting combat missions over Afghanistan is support of Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Navy photo by Lieutenant Commander Christopher W. Chope.F/A-18 Hornet: In the skies over Afghanistan (March 19, 2002) -- A U.S. Navy F/A-18 “Hornet” assigned to the "Knighthawks" of Strike Fighter Squadron One Three Six (VFA-136) conducts a patrol mission over Afghanistan. Kennedy and her embarked Carrier Air Wing Seven (CVW-7) are conducting combat missions over Afghanistan is support of Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Navy photo by Lieutenant Commander Christopher W. Chope.

Background

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.

Hornets taking direct hits from surface-to-air missiles, recovering successfully, being repaired quickly, and flying again the next day proved the aircraft's survivability. 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 Sept. 17, 1995. The E is a single seat while the F is a two-seater.

The F/A-18 E/F acquisition program was an unparalleled success. The aircraft emerged from Engineering and Manufacturing Development meeting all of its performance requirements on cost, on schedule and 400 pounds under weight. All of this was verified in Operational Verification testing, the final exam, passing with flying colors receiving the highest possible endorsement.

The first operational cruise of Super Hornet, F/A-18 E, was with VFA-115 onboard the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) on July 24, 2002, and saw initial combat action on Nov. 6, 2002, when they participated in a strike on hostile targets in the "no-fly" zone in Iraq.

Super Hornet, flew combat sorties from Abraham Lincoln during Southern Watch, demonstrating reliability and an increased range and payload capability. VFA 115 embarked aboard Lincoln expended twice the amount of bombs as other squadrons in their airwing (with 100% accuracy) and met and exceeded all readiness requirements while on deployment. The Super Hornet cost per flight hour is 40% of the F-14 Tomcat and requires 75% less labor hours per flight hour.

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. The E and F models have built on the proven effectiveness of the A through D aircraft. The Super Hornet provides aircrew the capability and performance necessary to face 21st century threats.

F/A-18 Hornet: NORFOLK, Virginia (June 2, 2007) - Water vapor flows over the wings of an F/A-18F Super Hornet attached to the "Red Rippers" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 11 as it performs a high-speed pass during an air power demonstration on board the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). Truman Sailors brought over 4000 guests on board for a day-long Friends and Family Day cruise on June 2. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kristopher WilsonF/A-18 Hornet: NORFOLK, Virginia (June 2, 2007) - Water vapor flows over the wings of an F/A-18F Super Hornet attached to the "Red Rippers" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 11 as it performs a high-speed pass during an air power demonstration on board the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). Truman Sailors brought over 4000 guests on board for a day-long Friends and Family Day cruise on June 2. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kristopher Wilson

Service

Navy and Marine Corps

General Characteristics, Super Hornet, E and F models

Primary Function: Multi-role attack and fighter aircraft.

Contractor: McDonnell Douglas.

Date Deployed: First flight in November 1995. Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in September 2001 with VFA-115, NAS Lemoore, Calif. First cruise for VFA-115 is onboard the USS Abraham Lincoln.

Unit Cost: $57 million

Propulsion: Two F414-GE-400 turbofan engines. 22,000 pounds (9,977 kg) static thrust per engine.

Length: 60.3 feet (18.5 meters).

Height: 16 feet (4.87 meters).

Wingspan: 44.9 feet (13.68 meters).

Weight: Maximum Take Off Gross Weight is 66,000 pounds (29,932 kg).

Airspeed: Mach 1.8+.

Ceiling: 50,000+ feet.

Range: Combat: 1,275 nautical miles (2,346 kilometers), clean plus two AIM-9s

Ferry: 1,660 nautical miles (3,054 kilometers), two AIM-9s, three 480 gallon tanks retained.

Crew: A, C and E models: One

B, D and F models: Two.

Armament: One M61A1/A2 Vulcan 20mm cannon; AIM 9 Sidewinder, AIM-9X (projected), AIM 7 Sparrow, AIM-120 AMRAAM, Harpoon, Harm, SLAM, SLAM-ER (projected), Maverick missiles; Joint Stand-Off Weapon (JSOW); Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM); Data Link Pod; Paveway Laser Guided Bomb; various general purpose bombs, mines and rockets. See the F/A-18 weapons load-out page.

F/A-18 Hornet: At sea aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Feb. 21, 2002 -- An F/A-18 "Hornet" from the "Black Knights" of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron Three One Four (VMFA-314) makes an arrested landing on the flight deck. John C. Stennis and Carrier Air Wing Nine (CVW-9) are conducting missions over Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate Airman Michael Arteaga.F/A-18 Hornet: At sea aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Feb. 21, 2002 -- An F/A-18 "Hornet" from the "Black Knights" of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron Three One Four (VMFA-314) makes an arrested landing on the flight deck. John C. Stennis and Carrier Air Wing Nine (CVW-9) are conducting missions over Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate Airman Michael Arteaga.

General Characteristics, C and D models

Primary Function: Multi-role attack and fighter aircraft.

Contractor: Prime: McDonnell Douglas; Major Subcontractor: Northrop.

Date Deployed: November 1978. Operational - October 1983 (A/B models); September 1987 (C/D models).

Unit Cost: $29 million.

Propulsion: Two F404-GE-402 enhanced performance turbofan engines. 17,700 pounds static thrust per engine.

Length: 56 feet (16.8 meters).

Height: 15 feet 4 inches (4.6 meters).

Wingspan: 40 feet 5 inches (13.5 meters).

Weight: Maximum Take Off Gross Weight is 51,900 pounds (23,537 kg).

Airspeed: Mach 1.7+.

Ceiling: 50,000+ feet.

Range: Combat: 1,089 nautical miles (1252.4 miles/2,003 km), clean plus two AIM-9s

Ferry: 1,546 nautical miles (1777.9 miles/2,844 km), two AIM-9s plus three 330 gallon tanks.

Crew: A, C and E models: One

B, D and F models: Two

Armament: One M61A1/A2 Vulcan 20mm cannon; AIM 9 Sidewinder, AIM 7 Sparrow, AIM-120 AMRAAM, Harpoon, Harm, SLAM, SLAM-ER, Maverick missiles; Joint Stand-Off Weapon (JSOW); Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM); various general purpose bombs, mines and rockets.

Source: US Navy

F/A-18 Hornet: August 27, 1996. Over the Persian Gulf. A F/A-18 “Hornet” assigned to Carrier Air Wing 14 (CVW-14) embarked on board the U.S. Navy’s aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), hooks into the “drouge receptacle” during an air-to-air refuel, with an U.S. Air Force KC-135 tanker, assigned to the 4408th Air Refueling Squadron. USAF Combat Camera Imagery by Staff Sergeant David W. Richards (Released by U.S. Navy)F/A-18 Hornet: August 27, 1996. Over the Persian Gulf. A F/A-18 “Hornet” assigned to Carrier Air Wing 14 (CVW-14) embarked on board the U.S. Navy’s aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), hooks into the “drouge receptacle” during an air-to-air refuel, with an U.S. Air Force KC-135 tanker, assigned to the 4408th Air Refueling Squadron. USAF Combat Camera Imagery by Staff Sergeant David W. Richards (Released by U.S. Navy)

Detailed background:

Source: wikipedia.org

The McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) F/A-18 Hornet is an all-weather carrier-capable strike fighter jet, designed to attack both ground and aerial targets. Designed in the 1970s for service with the U.S. Navy and U.S. 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 Blue Angels since 1986. Its primary missions are fighter escort, fleet air defense, suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD), interdiction, close air support and 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 contemporaries.

The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is a distinct, evolutionary upgrade to the F/A-18 designed to serve a complementary role with Hornets in the U.S. Navy.

Development

Origins

Development of the F/A-18 came as a result of the U.S. Navy's Naval Fighter-Attack, Experimental (VFAX) program to procure a multirole aircraft to replace the A-4 Skyhawk, the A-7 Corsair II, remaining F-4 Phantom IIs and to complement the F-14 Tomcat. Vice Admiral Kent Lee, then head of Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), was the lead advocate for the VFAX against strong opposition from many Navy officers, including Vice Admiral William D. Houser, deputy chief of naval operations for air warfare - the highest ranking naval aviator.

In August 1973, Congress mandated that the Navy pursue a lower-cost alternative to the F-14. Grumman proposed a stripped F-14 designated the F-14X, while McDonnell Douglas proposed a navalized F-15, but both were nearly as expensive as the F-14. That summer, Secretary of Defense Schlesinger ordered the Navy to evaluate the competitors in the Air Force's Lightweight Fighter (LWF) program, the General Dynamics YF-16 and Northrop YF-17. The Air Force competition specified a day fighter with no strike capability. In May 1974, the House Armed Services Committee redirected $34 million from the VFAX to a new program, the Navy Air Combat Fighter (NACF), intended to make maximum use of the technology developed for the LWF program. Redesigning the YF-17

Though the YF-16 won the LWF competition, the Navy was skeptical that an aircraft with one engine and narrow landing gear could be easily or economically adapted to carrier service, and refused to adopt an F-16 derivative. The Navy fought for and won permission to develop an aircraft based on the YF-17. Since the LWF did not share the design requirements of the VFAX, the Navy asked McDonnell Douglas and Northrop to design a new aircraft around the configuration and design principles of the YF-17. The new aircraft, designated the F-18, shared not a single essential dimension or primary structure with the YF-17. Secretary of the Navy W. Graham Claytor announced on 1 March 1977 that the name of the aircraft would be "Hornet".

Northrop had enlisted the aid of McDonnell Douglas as a secondary contractor on the NACF proposal to capitalize on the latter's extensive experience in building carrier aircraft, including the highly successful F-4 Phantom II. On the F-18, the two companies agreed to split the parts manufacture evenly, with McDonnell Douglas completing the final assembly, representing ~20% of the work. McDonnell Douglas built the wings, stabilators, and forward fuselage; Northrop built the center and aft fuselage and vertical stabilizers. McDonnell Douglas was the prime contractor for the naval versions. Northrop would become the prime contractor and take over final assembly for the F-18L land-based version which Northrop hoped to sell on the export market.

F/A-18 Hornet: ATLANTIC OCEAN (July 6, 2007) - An F/A-18E Super Hornet, attached to the "Swordsmen" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 32, approaches the flight deck for an arrested landing aboard Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). Truman is underway in the Atlantic Ocean participating in the composite training unit exercise in preparation for deployment to the Persian Gulf. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Justin Lee LosackF/A-18 Hornet: ATLANTIC OCEAN (July 6, 2007) - An F/A-18E Super Hornet, attached to the "Swordsmen" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 32, approaches the flight deck for an arrested landing aboard Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). Truman is underway in the Atlantic Ocean participating in the composite training unit exercise in preparation for deployment to the Persian Gulf. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Justin Lee Losack

The F-18, initially known as McDonnell Douglas Model 267, was drastically modified from the YF-17 while retaining the same basic configuration. For carrier operations, the airframe, undercarriage, and arrestor hook were strengthened, folding wings and catapult attachments were added, and the landing gear widened. To meet Navy range and reserves requirements, McDonnell increased fuel capacity by 4,460 pounds (2,020 kg), with the enlargement of the dorsal spine and the addition of a 96 gallon fuel cell to each wing (the YF-17 had dry wings). Most visibly, a "snag" was added to the leading edge of the wings and stabilators to prevent a flutter discovered in the F-15 stabilator. The wings and stabilators were enlarged, the aft fuselage widened by 4 inches (102 mm), and the engines canted outward at the front. These changes added 10,000 lb (4,540 kg) to the gross weight, bringing it to 37,000 lb (16,800 kg). The computer-assisted control system of the YF-17 was replaced with a wholly digital fly-by-wire system with quadruple-redundancy, the first to be installed in a production fighter.

The original plan specified acquiring 780 total of three closely related models: the single seat F-18A fighter and A-18A attack aircraft, differing only in avionics, and the dual-seat TF-18A, which retained full mission capability of the F-18, except with a reduced fuel load. With redesign of the stores stations and improvements in avionics and multifunction displays, it became possible to combine the A-18A and F-18A into one aircraft. Starting in 1980, the aircraft began being referred to as the F/A-18A, and the designation was officially announced on 1 April 1984. The TF-18A was redesignated F/A-18B. Northrop's F-18L

Northrop developed the F-18L as a potential export aircraft. Since it did not have to be strengthened for carrier service, it was expected to be lighter and better performing, and a strong competitor to the F-16 Fighting Falcon then being offered to American allies. The F-18L was 7,700 pounds (3,493 kg) (approximately 30%) lighter than the F/A-18A, due to a lighter landing gear, removal of the wing folding mechanism, and reduced part thickness in areas. Though the aircraft retained a lightened arresting hook, the most obvious external difference was the removal of the "snags" on the leading edge of the wings and stabilators. It still retained 71% commonality with the F/A-18 by parts weight, and 90% of the high-value systems, including the avionics, radar, and ECM suite, though alternatives were offered. Unlike the F/A-18, the F-18L carried no fuel in its wings and lacked weapons stations on the intakes. It had three underwing pylons on each side instead.

The partnership between the McDonnell Douglas and Northrop soured over competition for foreign sales for the two models. Northrop felt that McDonnell Douglas would put the F/A-18 in direct competition with the F-18L. In October 1979, Northrop filed a series of lawsuits charging that McDonnell was using Northrop technology developed for the F-18L for foreign sales in violation of their agreement, and asked for a moratorium on foreign sales of the Hornet via McDonnell Douglas. The case was resolved in 1985 when McDonnell agreed to pay Northrop $50 million for complete rights to the design, without any admission of wrongdoing. By then Northrop had ceased work on the F-18L, and most export orders were captured by the F-16 or the F/A-18.

Into production

During flight testing, the snag on the leading edge of the stabilators was filled in, and the gap between the Leading edge extensions (LEX) and the fuselage mostly filled in. The gap, called the boundary layer air discharge (BLAD) slots, controlled the vortices generated by the LEX and presented clean air to the vertical stabilizers at high angles of attack. However, they also generated a great deal of parasitic drag, worsening the problem of the F/A-18's inadequate range. McDonnell filled in 80% of the gap, leaving a small slot to bleed air from the engine intake. This may have contributed to early problems with fatigue cracks appearing on the vertical stabilizers due to extreme aerodynamic loads, resulting in a momentary grounding in 1984 until the stabilizers were strengthened. Starting in May 1988, a small vertical fence was added to the top of each LEX to broaden the vortices and direct them away from the vertical stabilizers. This also provided a minor increase in controllability as a side effect.

The first production F/A-18A flew on 12 April 1980. After a production run of 380 F/A-18As (including the nine assigned to flight systems development), manufacture shifted to the F/A-18C in September 1987.

Design

The F/A-18 is a twin engine, mid-wing, multi-mission tactical aircraft. It is superbly maneuverable, owing to its good thrust to weight ratio, digital fly-by-wire control system, and leading edge extensions (LEX). The LEX allow the Hornet to remain controllable at high angles of attack. This is because the LEX produce powerful vortices over the wings, creating turbulent airflow over the wings and thus delaying or eliminating the aerodynamic separation responsible for stall, allowing the Hornet's wings to generate lift several times the aircraft's weight, despite high angles of attack. The Hornet is therefore capable of extremely tight turns over a large range of speeds.

Canted vertical stabilizers are another distinguishing design element, and among the other design characteristics that enable the Hornet's excellent high angle-of-attack capability include oversized horizontal stabilators, oversized trailing edge flaps that operate as flaperons, large full-length leading-edge flaps, and flight control computer programming that multiplies the movement of each control surface at low speeds and moves the vertical rudders inboard instead of simply left and right. The Hornet's normally high angle-of-attack performance envelope was put to rigorous testing and enhanced in the NASA F-18 High Alpha Research Vehicle (HARV). NASA used the F-18 HARV to demonstrate flight handling characteristics at high angle-of-attack (alpha) of 65-70 degrees using thrust vectoring vanes. F/A-18 stabilators were also used as canards on NASA's F-15S/MTD.

The Hornet was among the first aircraft to heavily utilize multi-function displays, which at the switch of a button allow the pilot to perform either fighter or attack roles or both. This "force multiplier" capability gives the operational commander more flexibility in employing tactical aircraft in a rapidly changing battle scenario. It was the first Navy aircraft to incorporate a digital multiplex avionics bus, enabling easy upgrades.

The Hornet is also notable for having been designed with maintenance in mind, and as a result has required far less downtime than its heavier counterparts, the F-14 Tomcat and the A-6 Intruder. Its mean time between failure is three times greater than any other Navy strike aircraft, and requires half the maintenance time. For example, whereas replacing the engine on the A-4 Skyhawk required removing the aircraft's tail, the engine on the Hornet is attached at only three points and can be directly removed without excessive disassembly. An experienced maintenance crew can remove and replace an F/A-18 engine in only a couple of hours.

The General Electric F404-GE-400 or F404-GE-402 engines powering the Hornet were also innovative in that they were designed with operability, reliability, and maintainability first. The result is an engine that, while unexceptional on paper in terms of rated performance, demonstrates exceptional robustness under a variety of conditions and is resistant to stall and flameout. By contrast, the Pratt & Whitney TF30 engines that originally powered the F-14A were notoriously prone to compressor stall and flameout under certain flight conditions.

The engine air inlets of the Hornet, like that of the F-16, are "fixed", while those of the F-4, F-14, and F-15 have variable geometry or variable ramp engine air inlets. The variable geometry enables high-speed aircraft to keep the velocity of the air reaching the engine below supersonic. This is one speed limiting factor in the Hornet design. Instead, the Hornet uses bleed air vents on the inboard surface of the engine air intake ducts to slow and reduce the amount of air reaching the engine. While not as effective as variable geometry, the bleed air technique functions well enough to achieve near Mach 2 speeds, which is within the designed mission requirements. The less sophisticated design is also more robust.

Because it was designed as a light multirole aircraft to complement the specialized F-14 and A-6 airframes, it had a relatively low internal fuel fraction. That is, its internal fuel capacity is small relative to its take-off weight, at around 23%. Most aircraft of its class have a fuel fraction between .30 to .35. This situation was exacerbated by the addition of new avionics over its lifespan, further reducing the fuel fraction. This lead to 330-gallon external tanks being a common sight on F/A-18s, with the centerline and inner wings stations (numbered 3, 5 and 7) being plumbed to transfer fuel.

Design evolution

In the 1990s, the US Navy faced the need to replace its aging A-6 Intruders, EA-6 Prowlers, A-7 Corsair IIs and F-14 Tomcats without proper replacements in development. To answer this deficiency, the Navy had the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet developed. Despite its designation, it is not an upgrade of the F/A-18 Hornet, but rather, a new, larger airframe utilizing the design concepts of the Hornet. Hornets and Super Hornets will serve complementary roles in the US Navy carrier arsenal, until the deployment of the F-35C Lightning II, which will primarily replace F/A-18A-D Hornets.

Operational history

United States: Entry into service

McDonnell Douglas rolled out the first F/A-18A on 13 September 1978, in blue-on-white colors marked with "Navy" on the left and "Marines" on the right. Its first flight was on 18 November. In a break with tradition, the Navy pioneered the "principal site concept" with the F/A-18, where almost all testing was done at NAS Pax River, instead of near the site of manufacture, and involving Navy test pilots instead of contractor pilots much earlier in the process.

In March 1979, Lt Cdr John Padgett became the first Navy pilot to fly the F/A-18. In all, nine F/A-18As and two F/A-18Bs were assigned to flight systems development.

Following trials and operational testing by VX-4 and VX-5, Hornets began to fill the Fleet Replacement Squadrons (FRS) VFA-125, VFA-106, and VMFAT-101, where pilots are introduced to the F/A-18. The Hornet entered operational service with Marine Corps squadron VMFA-314 at MCAS El Toro on 7 January 1983, and with Navy squadron VFA-113 in March 1983, replacing F-4s and A-7Es, respectively.

The initial fleet reports were complimentary, indicating that the Hornet was extraordinarily reliable, a major change from its predecessor, the F-4J. Other squadrons that switched to F/A-18 are VFA-146 "Blue diamonds", and VFA-147 "Argonauts". In January 1985, the VFA-131 Wildcats moved from Naval Air Station Lemoore to Naval Air Station Cecil Field, Florida, and became the Atlantic Fleet’s first F/A-18 squadron.

F/A-18 Hornet: At sea aboard USS George Washington (CVN 73) Apr. 26, 2002 -- Aircraft from Carrier Air Wing Seventeen (CVW-17) fly high above USS George Washington. An F-14B “Tomcat” assigned to the “Jolly Rogers” of Fighter Squadron One Zero Three (VF-103) refuels from an S-3 “Viking” assigned to the “Diamond Cutters” of Sea Control Squadron Three Zero (VS-30) while an F/A 18 “Hornet” assigned to the “Rampagers” of Fighter Attack Squadron Eight Three (VFA-83) flies close by. George Washington is based in Norfolk, VA, and is conducting integrated training exercises in the Caribbean Sea. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 3rd Class J. Scott Campbell.F/A-18 Hornet: At sea aboard USS George Washington (CVN 73) Apr. 26, 2002 -- Aircraft from Carrier Air Wing Seventeen (CVW-17) fly high above USS George Washington. An F-14B “Tomcat” assigned to the “Jolly Rogers” of Fighter Squadron One Zero Three (VF-103) refuels from an S-3 “Viking” assigned to the “Diamond Cutters” of Sea Control Squadron Three Zero (VS-30) while an F/A 18 “Hornet” assigned to the “Rampagers” of Fighter Attack Squadron Eight Three (VFA-83) flies close by. George Washington is based in Norfolk, VA, and is conducting integrated training exercises in the Caribbean Sea. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 3rd Class J. Scott Campbell.

The US Navy's Blue Angels aerobatic team switched to the F/A-18 Hornet in 1986, when it replaced the A-4 Skyhawk. The Blue Angels perform in F/A-18A and B models at air shows and other special events across the US and worldwide. Blue Angels pilots must have 1,350 hours and an aircraft carrier certification. The two-seat B model is typically used to give rides to VIPs, but can also fill in for other aircraft in the squadron in a normal show if the need arises.

Into combat

The F/A-18 first saw combat action in April 1986, when VFA-131 Hornets from USS Coral Sea flew SEAD missions against Libyan air defenses during Operation Prairie Fire and an attack on Benghazi as part of Operation El Dorado Canyon.

During the first Gulf War, two U.S. Navy F/A-18s were destroyed with the loss of their pilots. On 17 January 1991, the first day of the war, Lieutenant Commander Scott Speicher of VFA-81 was shot down and remains listed as missing in action. The other F/A-18, piloted by Lieutenant Robert Dwyer (who was officially listed as killed in action), was lost over the North Persian Gulf after a successful mission to Iraq.

F/A-18 pilots were credited with two kills during the Gulf War, both MiG-21s. On the first day of the war, U.S. Navy pilots Lieutenant Nick Mongilio and Lieutenant Commander (now Rear Admiral) Mark Fox were sent from the USS Saratoga in the Red Sea to bomb an airfield in southwestern Iraq. While enroute, they were warned by an E-2C of approaching MiG-21 aircraft. The Hornets shot down two MiGs and resumed their bombing run, each carrying four 2,000 lb bombs, before returning to Saratoga. Mongilio and Fox become the first pilots to register air-to-air kills while still completing their original air-to-ground mission. The Hornet's survivability was demonstrated when a Hornet took hits in both engines and flew 125 mi (201 km) back to base. It was repaired and flying within a few days. Overall during the Gulf War, F/A-18s flew 4,551 sorties with ten Hornets damaged including the two losses previously mentioned.

As the A-6 Intruder was retired in the 1990s, its role was filled by the F/A-18. The F/A-18 demonstrated its versatility and reliability during Operation Desert Storm, shooting down enemy fighters and subsequently bombing enemy targets with the same aircraft on the same mission. It broke records for tactical aircraft in availability, reliability, and maintainability.

Both U.S. Navy F/A-18A/C models and Marine F/A-18A/C/D models were used continuously in Operation Southern Watch and over Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s. U.S. Navy Hornets flew in Operation Enduring Freedom from carriers operating in the North Arabian Sea. Both the F/A-18A/C and newer F/A-18E/F variants were used in Operation Iraqi Freedom, operating from aircraft carriers. Later in the conflict USMC A+, C, and primarily D models operated from bases within Iraq. An F/A-18C was accidentally downed in a Friendly Fire incident by a Patriot missile early in the conflict, and two others collided over Iraq in May 2005. In January 2007, two Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornets collided in mid-air and crashed in the Persian Gulf. On June 13, 2008, an F/A-18C Hornet collided with an F-5 Tiger over northern Nevada's high desert, killing its pilot. Both pilots of the F-5 were injured, but managed to parachute to safety.

Non-US service

Though Navy aircraft have not historically sold well on the export market, the F/A-18 has been purchased and is in operation with a number of foreign air services. Export Hornets are typically similar to U.S. models of a similar manufacture date. Since none of the customers operate aircraft carriers, all export models have been sold without the automatic carrier landing system, and Australia further removed the catapult attachment on the nose gear. Except for Canada, all export customers purchased their Hornets through the U.S. Navy, via the U.S. Foreign Military Sales (FMS) Program, where the Navy acts as the purchasing manager but incurs no financial gain or loss. Canada ordered its planes directly from the manufacturer.

Australia

The Royal Australian Air Force purchased 57 F/A-18A fighters and 18 F/A-18B two-seat trainers, with 71 in service, and 4 lost to crashes. The first F/A-18 was delivered to the RAAF on October 29, 1984. The fleet is expected to be retired by 2015, replaced by the F-35 Lightning II.

In 2001, Australia deployed four aircraft to Diego Garcia, in an air defence role, during coalition operations against the Taliban in Afghanistan. In 2003, 75 Squadron deployed 14 F/A-18s to Qatar as part of Operation Falconer.

Canada

Canada was the first export customer for the Hornet, replacing the CF-104 Starfighter (air recce & strike, Germany), the CF-101 Voodoo (air interception, Canada) and the CF-116 Freedom Fighter (ground attack, Canada). The Canadian Forces Air Command ordered 98 A-models (Canadian designation CF-188A/CF-18A) and 40 B models (designation CF-188B/CF-18B).

In 1991, Canada committed 26 CF-18s to the Gulf War, based in Qatar. In June 1999, with 18 CF-18s were deployed to Aviano AB, Italy, and they participated in both the air-to-ground and air-to-air roles in the former Yugoslavia.

The fighters are undergoing an avionics and structural upgrade program to extend service to 2020, upgrading F-18A and F-18B to F/A-18C and D standard. A total of 80 CF-18s, consisting of 62 single-seat and 18 dual-seat models were selected from the fleet for the upgrade program. As of 2003, Canada has 123 in service with 15 losses.

Finland

The Finnish Air Force (Suomen Ilmavoimat) ordered 64 F-18C/Ds. Delivery started on June 7, 1995. The Hornet replaced the MiG-21bis and Saab 35 Draken in Finnish service. One fighter was destroyed in a mid-air collision in 2001.

The Finnish F-18C includes the ASPJ (Airborne-Self-Protection-Jammer) jamming Pod ALQ-165 that was cancelled on original US Navy orders. The US Navy later included the ALQ-165 on their Super Hornet (F-18E/F) procurement. The Finnish Hornets were initially to be used only for air defense, hence the designation F-18.

Finland is upgrading its fleet of F-18s with new avionics, including helmet mounted sights (HMS), new cockpit displays, sensors and standard NATO datalink. A number of the 63 Hornets remaining are going to be fitted to carry air-to-ground ordnance such as the AGM-154C JSOW, in effect returning to the original F/A-18 multi-role configuration. The upgrade includes also the procurement and integration of new AIM-9X Sidewinder and AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles. This Mid-Life Upgrade (MLU) is estimated to cost between €1-1.6 billion and work is scheduled to be finished by 2015. After the upgrades the planes are to remain in active service til 2020-2025.

Kuwait

The Kuwait Air Force (Al Quwwat Aj Jawwaiya Al Kuwaitiya)] has 32 F/A-18C and F/A-18D Hornets. These aircraft were pre-ordered before the Iraqi invasion of August 1990. Delivery of the fighters started on 8 October 1991. The F/A-18C/Ds replaced A-4KU Skyhawk.

Malaysia

The Royal Malaysian Air Force (Tentera Udara Diraja Malaysia) has eight F/A-18Ds.

Spain

The Spanish Air Force (Ejército del Aire) ordered 60 EF-18A model and 12 EF-18B model Hornets (the "E" standing for "España", Spain), named respectively as C.15 and CE.15 by Spanish AF. Delivery of the Spanish version started on November 22, 1985. Currently all of these planes have been upgraded to F-18A+/B+ standard, close to F/A-18C/D (plus version includes later mission and armament computers, databuses, data-storage set, new wiring, pylon modifications and software, new capabilities as AN/AAS-38B NITE Hawk targeting FLIR pods).

In 1995 Spain obtained 24 ex-USN F/A-18A Hornets, with six more on option. The first six were delivered in December 1995. Prior to delivery, they were modified with F404 engines and other Spanish-specified modifications. This was the first sale of USN surplus Hornets.

Spanish Hornets operate as a all-weather interceptor 60% of the time and as a all-weather day/night attack plane for the remainder. In case of war, each of the front-line squadrons would take a primary role: 121 is tasked with tactical air support and maritime operations; 151 and 122 are assigned to all-weather interception and air combat roles; and 152 is assigned the SEAD mission. Air refueling is provided by KC-130Hs and Boeing 707TTs. Pilot conversion to EF-18 is centralized in 153 Squadron (Ala 15). Squadron 462's role is air defense of Canary Island, being responsible for fighter and attack missions from Gando AB.

Six of the Spanish Hornets have been lost. Spanish Air Force EF-18s Hornet have flown Ground Attack, SEAD, CAP combat missions in Bosnia and Kosovo, under NATO command, in Aviano detachment (Italy). They shared the base with Canadian and USMC F/A-18s.

Switzerland

Switzerland's Luftwaffe purchased 26 C models and 8 D models. One D model was lost in a crash. Delivery of the aircraft started on 25 January 1996.

In late 2007 Switzerland requested to be included in F/A-18C/D Upgrade 25 Program, in order to extend the useful life of its F/A-18C/Ds. The program includes significant upgrades to the avionics and mission computer, 20 ATFLIR surveillance and targeting pods, and 44 sets of AN/ALR-67v3 ECM equipment. Switzerland is interested in acquiring 8-11 more F/A-18 Hornets to replace retired Mirages.

Potential operators

The F/A-18C and F/A-18D were considered by the French Marine Nationale during the 1980s for deployment on their aircraft carriers Clemenceau and Foch and again in the 1990s for the later nuclear-powered Charles de Gaulle, in the event that the Dassault Rafale M was not brought into service when originally planned.

Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, evaluated the Hornet but did not purchase it. Thailand ordered four C and four D model Hornets but the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s resulted in the order being canceled. The U.S. DoD then purchased the in-production Hornets for the Marine Corps.

The never-produced land-based F-18L version was offered to Greece in the 1980s and was chosen by the Greek air force, but the Greek government chose F-16 and Mirage 2000 instead.

Variants

A/B

The F/A-18A is the single-seat variant and the F/A-18B is the two seat variant. The space for the two seat cockpit is provided by a relocation of avionic equipment and a 6% reduction in internal fuel; two-seat Hornets are otherwise fully combat-capable. The B model is used primarily for training.

In 1992, the original Hughes AN/APG-65 radar was replaced with the Hughes (now Raytheon) AN/APG-73, a faster and more capable radar. A model Hornets that have been upgraded to the AN/APG-73 are designated F/A-18A+.

C/D

The F/A-18C is the single-seat variant and the F/A-18D is the two seat variant. The D model can be configured for training or as an all-weather strike craft. The "missionized" D's rear seat is configured for a Weapons and Sensors Officer to assist in operating the weapons systems. The D model is primarily operated by the U.S. Marine Corps in the night attack and FAC(A) (Forward Air Controller (Airborne)) roles.

The F/A-18C and D models are the result of a block upgrade in 1987 incorporating upgraded radar, avionics, and the capacity to carry new missiles such as the AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missile and AGM-65 Maverick and AGM-84 Harpoon air-to-surface missiles. Other upgrades include the Martin-Baker NACES (Navy Aircrew Common Ejection Seat), and a self-protection jammer. A synthetic aperture ground mapping radar enables the pilot to locate targets in poor visibility conditions. C and D models delivered since 1989 also include an improved night attack capability, consisting of the Hughes AN/AAR-50 thermal navigation pod, the Loral AN/AAS-38 NITE Hawk FLIR (forward looking infrared array) targeting pod, night vision goggles, and two full-color (previously monochrome) MFDs and a color moving map.

In addition, 60 D model Hornets are configured as the night attack F/A-18D (RC) with ability for reconnaissance. These could be outfitted with the ATARS electro-optical sensor package that includes a sensor pod and equipment mounted in the place of the M61 cannon.

Beginning in 1992, the F404-GE-402 enhanced performance engine, providing approximately 10% more maximum static thrust became the standard Hornet engine. Since 1993, the AAS-38A NITE Hawk added a designator/ranger laser, allowing it to self-mark targets. The later AAS-38B added the ability to strike targets designated by lasers from other aircraft.

Production of the F/A-18C ended in 1999. In 2000, the last F/A-18D was delivered to the U.S. Marine Corps.

E/F Super Hornet

The single seat F/A-18E and two-seat F/A-18F Super Hornets carry over the name and design concept of the original F/A-18, but have been extensively redesigned. The Super Hornet has a new, 25% larger airframe, larger rectangular air intakes, more powerful GE F414 engines based on F/A-18's F404, and upgraded avionics suite. The aircraft is currently in production and will eventually equip 22 squadrons. The EA-18G Growler is an electronic warfare version of the two-seat F/A-18F, which entered production in 2007. The Growler will replace the Navy's EA-6B Prowler.

Other US variants

F-18(R)

This was a proposed reconnaissance version of the F/A-18A. It included a sensor package that replaced the 20 mm cannon. The first of two prototypes flew in August 1984, however the variant was not produced.

RF-18D

Proposed two-seat reconnaissance version for the US Marine Corps in the mid-1980s. It was to carry a radar reconnaissance pod. The system was canceled after it was unfunded in 1988. This capability was later realized on the F/A-18D(RC).

TF-18A

Two-seat training version of the F/A-18A fighter, later redesignated F/A-18B.

F-18 HARV

Single-seat High Alpha Research Vehicle for NASA.

X-53 Active Aeroelastic Wing

A NASA F/A-18 has been modified to demonstrate the Active Aeroelastic Wing technology, and was designated X-53 in December 2006.

Export variants

These designations are not part of 1962 United States Tri-Service aircraft designation system.

F-18L

This was a lighter land-based version of the F/A-18 Hornet. It was designed to be a single-seat air-superiority fighter and ground-attack aircraft. It was originally intended to be assembled by Northrop as the export version of the F/A-18 Hornet. The F-18L was lighter due to the removal of carrier landing capability. Despite the advantages, customers preferred the "ordinary" Hornet, and the F-18L never went into production.

(A)F/A-18A/B

* (A)F/A-18A: Single-seat fighter/attack version for the Royal Australian Air Force.

* (A)F/A-18B: Two-seat training version for the Royal Australian Air Force.

"F/A-18A" was the original company designation, designations of "AF-18A" & "ATF-18A" have also been applied. Assembled in Australia (excluding the first two (A)F/A-18Bs) by Aero-Space Technologies of Australia (ASTA) from 1985 through to 1990, from kits produced by McDonnell Douglas with increasing local content in the later aircraft. Originally the most notable differences between an Australian (A)F/A-18A/B and a US F/A-18A/B were the lack of a catapult attachment, replacement of the carrier tailhook for a lighter "land" arresting hook, and the replacement of the automatic carrier landing system with an Instrument Landing System. Australian Hornets have been involved in a number of major upgrade programs. This program called HUG (Hornet Upgrade) has had a few evolutions over the years. The first was to give Australian Hornets F/A-18C model avionics. The second and current upgrade program (HUG 2.2) updates the fleet's avionics even further.

CF-18 Hornet

* CF-18A : Single-seat fighter/attack version for the Canadian Forces. The Canadian Forces' official designation is CF-188A Hornet.

* CF-18B : Two-seat training version for the Canadian Forces. The Canadian Forces' official designation is CF-188B Hornet.

EF-18 Hornet

* EF-18A: Single-seat fighter/attack version for the Spanish Air Force. The Spanish Air Force designation is C.15.

* EF-18B: Two-seat training version for the Spanish Air Force. The Spanish Air Force designation is CE.15.

KAF-18 Hornet

* KAF-18C: Single-seat fighter/attack version for the Kuwait Air Force.

* KAF-18D: Two-seat training version for the Kuwait Air Force.

F-18C/D Hornet

* The Finnish Air Force uses F/A-18C/D Hornets, with a Finland-specific mid-life update. The first 7 Hornets (D-models) were produced by McDonnell Douglas. The 57 single-seat F-18C model units were assembled by Patria in Finland.

F-18C/D Hornet

* Switzerland uses F-18C/D, later Swiss specific mid-life update. The Swiss F-18s were originally without ground attack capability until hardware was retrofitted.

More photos:

F/A-18 Hornet: Operation Enduring Freedom -- U.S. Navy F/A-18 “Hornet” strike fighter aircraft (VFA) assigned to Carrier Air Wing One Seven (CVW-17) fly in formation after launching from the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73). The squadrons pictured, include the VFA-81 “Sunliners" (Top), the VFA-83 "Rampagers" (center), and the VFA-34 "Blue Blasters" (bottom). George Washington and her Battlegroup are on a regularly scheduled deployment conducting missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Navy photo by Captain Dana Potts.F/A-18 Hornet: Operation Enduring Freedom -- U.S. Navy F/A-18 “Hornet” strike fighter aircraft (VFA) assigned to Carrier Air Wing One Seven (CVW-17) fly in formation after launching from the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73). The squadrons pictured, include the VFA-81 “Sunliners" (Top), the VFA-83 "Rampagers" (center), and the VFA-34 "Blue Blasters" (bottom). George Washington and her Battlegroup are on a regularly scheduled deployment conducting missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Navy photo by Captain Dana Potts.

F/A-18 Hornet: At sea aboard USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67) Apr. 20, 2002 -- An F/A-18C “Hornet” assigned to the "Wildcats" of Strike Fighter Squadron One Three One (VFA-131) performs an inflight refueling evolution with a Royal Australian EB-707. Kennedy and her embarked Carrier Air Wing Seven (CVW-7) are conducting combat missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Navy photo by Capt. William E. Gortney.F/A-18 Hornet: At sea aboard USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67) Apr. 20, 2002 -- An F/A-18C “Hornet” assigned to the "Wildcats" of Strike Fighter Squadron One Three One (VFA-131) performs an inflight refueling evolution with a Royal Australian EB-707. Kennedy and her embarked Carrier Air Wing Seven (CVW-7) are conducting combat missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Navy photo by Capt. William E. Gortney.

F/A-18 Hornet: At sea with USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) May 5, 2002 - An F/A-18 "Hornet" assigned to the "Argonauts" of Strike Fighter Squadron One Four Seven (VFA-147) performs a high speed pass over the ship’s flight deck. John C. Stennis and its embarked Carrier Air Wing Nine (CVW-9) has recently completed combat missions over Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 3rd Class Jayme Pastoric.F/A-18 Hornet: At sea with USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) May 5, 2002 - An F/A-18 "Hornet" assigned to the "Argonauts" of Strike Fighter Squadron One Four Seven (VFA-147) performs a high speed pass over the ship’s flight deck. John C. Stennis and its embarked Carrier Air Wing Nine (CVW-9) has recently completed combat missions over Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 3rd Class Jayme Pastoric.

F/A-18 Hornet: Off the coast of Pusan, South Korea, July 7, 1999 -- An F/A-18 Hornet assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron One Five One (VFA-151) breaks the sound barrier in the skies over the Pacific Ocean. VFA-151 is deployed aboard USS Constellation (CVN 64). U.S. Navy photo by Ensign John Gay.F/A-18 Hornet: Off the coast of Pusan, South Korea, July 7, 1999 -- An F/A-18 Hornet assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron One Five One (VFA-151) breaks the sound barrier in the skies over the Pacific Ocean. VFA-151 is deployed aboard USS Constellation (CVN 64). U.S. Navy photo by Ensign John Gay.

F/A-18 Hornet: At sea aboard USS George Washington (CVN 73) Apr. 26, 2002 -- Aircraft from Carrier Air Wing Seventeen (CVW-17) fly high above USS George Washington. An F-14B “Tomcat” assigned to the “Jolly Rogers” of Fighter Squadron One Zero Three (VF-103) refuels from an S-3 “Viking” assigned to the “Diamond Cutters” of Sea Control Squadron Three Zero (VS-30) while an F/A 18 “Hornet” assigned to the “Rampagers” of Fighter Attack Squadron Eight Three (VFA-83) flies close by. George Washington is based in Norfolk, VA, and is conducting integrated training exercises in the Caribbean Sea. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 3rd Class J. Scott Campbell.F/A-18 Hornet: At sea aboard USS George Washington (CVN 73) Apr. 26, 2002 -- Aircraft from Carrier Air Wing Seventeen (CVW-17) fly high above USS George Washington. An F-14B “Tomcat” assigned to the “Jolly Rogers” of Fighter Squadron One Zero Three (VF-103) refuels from an S-3 “Viking” assigned to the “Diamond Cutters” of Sea Control Squadron Three Zero (VS-30) while an F/A 18 “Hornet” assigned to the “Rampagers” of Fighter Attack Squadron Eight Three (VFA-83) flies close by. George Washington is based in Norfolk, VA, and is conducting integrated training exercises in the Caribbean Sea. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 3rd Class J. Scott Campbell.

F/A-18 Hornet: At sea aboard USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) May 3, 2002 -- An F/A-18E "Super Hornet" assigned to the “Eagles” of Strike Fighter Squadron One One Five (VFA-115) launches from one of two steam driven catapults on the ship’s angle deck. Lincoln is conducting flight operations off the West Coast in support of Joint Training Forces Exercise (JTFEX). U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 3rd Class Kittie VandenBosch.F/A-18 Hornet: At sea aboard USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) May 3, 2002 -- An F/A-18E "Super Hornet" assigned to the “Eagles” of Strike Fighter Squadron One One Five (VFA-115) launches from one of two steam driven catapults on the ship’s angle deck. Lincoln is conducting flight operations off the West Coast in support of Joint Training Forces Exercise (JTFEX). U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 3rd Class Kittie VandenBosch.

F/A-18 Hornet: In the skies over Afghanistan (March 19, 2002) -- A U.S. Navy F/A-18 “Hornet” assigned to the "Knighthawks" of Strike Fighter Squadron One Three Six (VFA-136) conducts a patrol mission over Afghanistan. Kennedy and her embarked Carrier Air Wing Seven (CVW-7) are conducting combat missions over Afghanistan is support of Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Navy photo by Lieutenant Commander Christopher W. Chope.F/A-18 Hornet: In the skies over Afghanistan (March 19, 2002) -- A U.S. Navy F/A-18 “Hornet” assigned to the "Knighthawks" of Strike Fighter Squadron One Three Six (VFA-136) conducts a patrol mission over Afghanistan. Kennedy and her embarked Carrier Air Wing Seven (CVW-7) are conducting combat missions over Afghanistan is support of Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Navy photo by Lieutenant Commander Christopher W. Chope.

F/A-18 Hornet: At sea aboard USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67) Mar. 31, 2002 -- An F/A-18 “Hornet” assigned to the “Knighthawks” of Strike Fighter Squadron One Three Six (VFA-136) conducts combat missions over international waters, and in the skies over Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Navy photo by Captain William E. Gortney.F/A-18 Hornet: At sea aboard USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67) Mar. 31, 2002 -- An F/A-18 “Hornet” assigned to the “Knighthawks” of Strike Fighter Squadron One Three Six (VFA-136) conducts combat missions over international waters, and in the skies over Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Navy photo by Captain William E. Gortney.

F/A-18 Hornet: Operation Enduring Freedom (Mar. 29, 2002) -- An F/A-18 “Hornet” from Strike Fighter Squadron One Three One (VFA-131) flies equipped with the first combat carriage of the new GBU-32 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) mounted under its starboard (right) wing. VFA-131 is part of Carrier Air Wing Seven (CVW-7), deployed aboard USS John F. Kennedy and is conducting combat missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Navy photo by Capt. William E. Gortney.F/A-18 Hornet: Operation Enduring Freedom (Mar. 29, 2002) -- An F/A-18 “Hornet” from Strike Fighter Squadron One Three One (VFA-131) flies equipped with the first combat carriage of the new GBU-32 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) mounted under its starboard (right) wing. VFA-131 is part of Carrier Air Wing Seven (CVW-7), deployed aboard USS John F. Kennedy and is conducting combat missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Navy photo by Capt. William E. Gortney.

F/A-18 Hornet: At sea with USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Apr. 11, 2002 -- An F/A-18 "Hornet" strike figher from the "Blue Diamonds" of Strike Fighter Squadron One Four Six (VFA-146) conducts a combat mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The aircraft is sporting a new "patriotic" paint scheme, and is armed with a 500-pound GBU-12 laser-guided bomb, and AIM-7 "Sea Sparrow" mediam range and AIM-9M "Sidewinder" short range air-to-air missiles. The “Blue Diamonds” are embarked with Carrier Air Wing Nine (CVW-9) aboard USS John C. Stennis. U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Kyle "Chet" Turco.F/A-18 Hornet: At sea with USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Apr. 11, 2002 -- An F/A-18 "Hornet" strike figher from the "Blue Diamonds" of Strike Fighter Squadron One Four Six (VFA-146) conducts a combat mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The aircraft is sporting a new "patriotic" paint scheme, and is armed with a 500-pound GBU-12 laser-guided bomb, and AIM-7 "Sea Sparrow" mediam range and AIM-9M "Sidewinder" short range air-to-air missiles. The “Blue Diamonds” are embarked with Carrier Air Wing Nine (CVW-9) aboard USS John C. Stennis. U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Kyle "Chet" Turco.

F/A-18 Hornet: At sea aboard USS George Washington (CVN 73) Apr. 26, 2002 -- Radar Intercept Officer (RIO) Capt. Dana Potts (right) flies in an F-14B “Tomcat” assigned to the “Jolly Rogers” of Fighter Squadron One Zero Three (VF-103) while Capt. Rodger Welch pilots an F/A-18 “Hornet” assigned to the “Rampagers” of Fighter Attack Squadron Eight Three (VFA-83). Capt. Potts is scheduled to relieve Capt. Welch as Commander Carrier Air Wing Seventeen (CVW-17). George Washington is based in Norfolk, VA, and is conducting integrated training exercises in the Caribbean Sea. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 3rd Class J. Scott Campbell.F/A-18 Hornet: At sea aboard USS George Washington (CVN 73) Apr. 26, 2002 -- Radar Intercept Officer (RIO) Capt. Dana Potts (right) flies in an F-14B “Tomcat” assigned to the “Jolly Rogers” of Fighter Squadron One Zero Three (VF-103) while Capt. Rodger Welch pilots an F/A-18 “Hornet” assigned to the “Rampagers” of Fighter Attack Squadron Eight Three (VFA-83). Capt. Potts is scheduled to relieve Capt. Welch as Commander Carrier Air Wing Seventeen (CVW-17). George Washington is based in Norfolk, VA, and is conducting integrated training exercises in the Caribbean Sea. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 3rd Class J. Scott Campbell.

F/A-18 Hornet: ATLANTIC OCEAN (June 2, 2007) - An F/A-18C Hornet assigned to the Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 37 performs a supersonic pass as part of the air power demonstration during the Friends and Family Day Cruise aboard Nimitz-Class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). Sailors brought their friends and family aboard Truman so they could experience a day in the life of a Sailor. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ricardo ReyesF/A-18 Hornet: ATLANTIC OCEAN (June 2, 2007) - An F/A-18C Hornet assigned to the Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 37 performs a supersonic pass as part of the air power demonstration during the Friends and Family Day Cruise aboard Nimitz-Class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). Sailors brought their friends and family aboard Truman so they could experience a day in the life of a Sailor. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ricardo Reyes

F/A-18 Hornet: ARABIAN SEA (May 18, 2007) - An F/A-18C Hornet, assigned to the "Argonauts" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147, launches from aboard Nimitz-class carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group is on a scheduled deployment in support of maritime security operations. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Paul J. PerkinsF/A-18 Hornet: ARABIAN SEA (May 18, 2007) - An F/A-18C Hornet, assigned to the "Argonauts" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147, launches from aboard Nimitz-class carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group is on a scheduled deployment in support of maritime security operations. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Paul J. Perkins

F/A-18 Hornet: In the skies over Afghanistan (Oct. 31, 2001) -- An F/A-18 “Hornet” from the "Mighty Shrikes" of Strike Fighter Squadron Nine Four (VFA-94) fires flares during a training mission. Flares are part of the aircraft’s defense against surface-to-air and air-to-air infra-red (IR) heat-seeking missile attacks. IR missiles follow a heat source. The heat created by the flare will hopefully burn hotter than the aircraft engine and attract the incoming missile away from the aircraft. VFA-94 is assigned to Carrier Air wing Eleven (CVW 11) aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and conducting missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Steve Lightstone.F/A-18 Hornet: In the skies over Afghanistan (Oct. 31, 2001) -- An F/A-18 “Hornet” from the "Mighty Shrikes" of Strike Fighter Squadron Nine Four (VFA-94) fires flares during a training mission. Flares are part of the aircraft’s defense against surface-to-air and air-to-air infra-red (IR) heat-seeking missile attacks. IR missiles follow a heat source. The heat created by the flare will hopefully burn hotter than the aircraft engine and attract the incoming missile away from the aircraft. VFA-94 is assigned to Carrier Air wing Eleven (CVW 11) aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and conducting missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Steve Lightstone.

F/A-18 Hornet: August 27, 1996. Over the Persian Gulf. A F/A-18 “Hornet” assigned to Carrier Air Wing 14 (CVW-14) embarked on board the U.S. Navy’s aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), hooks into the “drouge receptacle” during an air-to-air refuel, with an U.S. Air Force KC-135 tanker, assigned to the 4408th Air Refueling Squadron. USAF Combat Camera Imagery by Staff Sergeant David W. Richards (Released by U.S. Navy)F/A-18 Hornet: August 27, 1996. Over the Persian Gulf. A F/A-18 “Hornet” assigned to Carrier Air Wing 14 (CVW-14) embarked on board the U.S. Navy’s aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), hooks into the “drouge receptacle” during an air-to-air refuel, with an U.S. Air Force KC-135 tanker, assigned to the 4408th Air Refueling Squadron. USAF Combat Camera Imagery by Staff Sergeant David W. Richards (Released by U.S. Navy)

F/A-18 Hornet: Two F/A-18C "Hornets" from the "Wildcats" of Strike Fighter Squadron One Three One (VFA-131) patrol the skies over the Arabian Gulf, March 25, 1996. VFA 131 is part of Carrier Air Wing Seven (CVW-7), currently embarked on board the U.S. Navy’s nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73). The George Washington is presently deployed to the Arabian Gulf in support of UN-led sanctions against Iraq, under Operation Southern Watch. U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Tom HaeusslerF/A-18 Hornet: Two F/A-18C "Hornets" from the "Wildcats" of Strike Fighter Squadron One Three One (VFA-131) patrol the skies over the Arabian Gulf, March 25, 1996. VFA 131 is part of Carrier Air Wing Seven (CVW-7), currently embarked on board the U.S. Navy’s nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73). The George Washington is presently deployed to the Arabian Gulf in support of UN-led sanctions against Iraq, under Operation Southern Watch. U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Tom Haeussler

F/A-18 Hornet: At sea aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Dec. 31, 2001 -- An F/A-18 "Hornet" is launched from the waist catapult while other aircraft are parked on the bow of the ship during flight operations. The F/A-18 is a part of Carrier Air Wing One (CVW-1) and is deployed with the Theodore Roosevelt Battle Group in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Jason Scarborough.F/A-18 Hornet: At sea aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Dec. 31, 2001 -- An F/A-18 "Hornet" is launched from the waist catapult while other aircraft are parked on the bow of the ship during flight operations. The F/A-18 is a part of Carrier Air Wing One (CVW-1) and is deployed with the Theodore Roosevelt Battle Group in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Jason Scarborough.

F/A-18 Hornet: At sea aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Feb. 21, 2002 -- An F/A-18 "Hornet" from the "Black Knights" of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron Three One Four (VMFA-314) makes an arrested landing on the flight deck. John C. Stennis and Carrier Air Wing Nine (CVW-9) are conducting missions over Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate Airman Michael Arteaga.F/A-18 Hornet: At sea aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Feb. 21, 2002 -- An F/A-18 "Hornet" from the "Black Knights" of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron Three One Four (VMFA-314) makes an arrested landing on the flight deck. John C. Stennis and Carrier Air Wing Nine (CVW-9) are conducting missions over Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate Airman Michael Arteaga.

F/A-18 Hornet: PERSIAN GULF (June 9, 2007) - An F/A-18C Hornet assigned to the "Sunliners" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 81 prepares to land on the flight deck of nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68). Nimitz Carrier Strike Group and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11 are deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet conducting maritime operations and supporting troops participating in the global war on terrorism. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice David L. SmartF/A-18 Hornet: PERSIAN GULF (June 9, 2007) - An F/A-18C Hornet assigned to the "Sunliners" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 81 prepares to land on the flight deck of nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68). Nimitz Carrier Strike Group and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11 are deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet conducting maritime operations and supporting troops participating in the global war on terrorism. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice David L. Smart

F/A-18 Hornet: PERSIAN GULF (June 6, 2007) - An F/A-18F Super Hornet attached to the "Black Knights" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 154 breaks out of formation high above the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) prior to landing on the flight deck. The John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group, is participating in Expeditionary Strike Force Exercises consisting of three Strike Groups; the John C. Stennis Strike Group, Nimitz Carrier Strike Group, and the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman John WagnerF/A-18 Hornet: PERSIAN GULF (June 6, 2007) - An F/A-18F Super Hornet attached to the "Black Knights" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 154 breaks out of formation high above the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) prior to landing on the flight deck. The John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group, is participating in Expeditionary Strike Force Exercises consisting of three Strike Groups; the John C. Stennis Strike Group, Nimitz Carrier Strike Group, and the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman John Wagner

F/A-18 Hornet: NORFOLK, Virginia (June 2, 2007) - An F/A-18C Hornet attached to the "Raging Bulls" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 37 climbs through rainbow-colored clouds during an air power demonstration on board the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). Truman Sailors brought over 4000 guests on board for a day-long Friends and Family Day cruise on June 2. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kristopher WilsonF/A-18 Hornet: NORFOLK, Virginia (June 2, 2007) - An F/A-18C Hornet attached to the "Raging Bulls" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 37 climbs through rainbow-colored clouds during an air power demonstration on board the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). Truman Sailors brought over 4000 guests on board for a day-long Friends and Family Day cruise on June 2. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kristopher Wilson

F/A-18 Hornet: NORFOLK, Virginia (June 2, 2007) - Water vapor flows over the wings of an F/A-18F Super Hornet attached to the "Red Rippers" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 11 as it performs a high-speed pass during an air power demonstration on board the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). Truman Sailors brought over 4000 guests on board for a day-long Friends and Family Day cruise on June 2. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kristopher WilsonF/A-18 Hornet: NORFOLK, Virginia (June 2, 2007) - Water vapor flows over the wings of an F/A-18F Super Hornet attached to the "Red Rippers" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 11 as it performs a high-speed pass during an air power demonstration on board the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). Truman Sailors brought over 4000 guests on board for a day-long Friends and Family Day cruise on June 2. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kristopher Wilson

F/A-18 Hornet: NORFOLK, Virginia (June 2, 2007)- An F/A-18C Hornet attached to the "Raging Bulls" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 37 punches through a cloud of water vapor while breaking the sound barrier during an air power demonstration on board the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). Truman Sailors brought over 4000 guests on board for a day-long Friends and Family Day cruise on June 2. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kristopher WilsonF/A-18 Hornet: NORFOLK, Virginia (June 2, 2007)- An F/A-18C Hornet attached to the "Raging Bulls" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 37 punches through a cloud of water vapor while breaking the sound barrier during an air power demonstration on board the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). Truman Sailors brought over 4000 guests on board for a day-long Friends and Family Day cruise on June 2. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kristopher Wilson

F/A-18 Hornet side: TASMAN SEA (July 4, 2007) - Australian Defense Minister Dr. Brendan Nelson is flown past USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) in an F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 102. Nelson toured the ship with nearly 40 other Australian guests. Kitty Hawk recently completed exercise Talisman Saber with Australian and other U.S. Navy and Marine Corps forces in the Coral Sea. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Kyle D. GahlauF/A-18 Hornet side: TASMAN SEA (July 4, 2007) - Australian Defense Minister Dr. Brendan Nelson is flown past USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) in an F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 102. Nelson toured the ship with nearly 40 other Australian guests. Kitty Hawk recently completed exercise Talisman Saber with Australian and other U.S. Navy and Marine Corps forces in the Coral Sea. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Kyle D. Gahlau

F/A-18 Hornet: PERSIAN GULF (July 2, 2007) - An F/A-18C Hornet, from the "Argonauts" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147, launches from the flight deck of Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) on a mission to provide support to ground forces in Iraq. Stennis and Carrier Air Wing 9 are on a scheduled deployment in support of the global war on terrorism and maritime operations. Maritime operations help set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment, as well as complement counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jon HydeF/A-18 Hornet: PERSIAN GULF (July 2, 2007) - An F/A-18C Hornet, from the "Argonauts" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147, launches from the flight deck of Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) on a mission to provide support to ground forces in Iraq. Stennis and Carrier Air Wing 9 are on a scheduled deployment in support of the global war on terrorism and maritime operations. Maritime operations help set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment, as well as complement counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jon Hyde

F/A-18 Hornet: MEDITERRANEAN SEA (July 21, 2007) - An F/A-18C Hornet assigned to the "Knighthawks" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 136 flies over the Mediterranean Sea during a unit-level training mission. VFA-136 is part of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1 embarked aboard the nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65). The Enterprise Carrier Strike Group is on a scheduled six-month deployment in support of maritime security operations and the global war on terrorism. U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Peter ScheuF/A-18 Hornet: MEDITERRANEAN SEA (July 21, 2007) - An F/A-18C Hornet assigned to the "Knighthawks" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 136 flies over the Mediterranean Sea during a unit-level training mission. VFA-136 is part of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1 embarked aboard the nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65). The Enterprise Carrier Strike Group is on a scheduled six-month deployment in support of maritime security operations and the global war on terrorism. U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Peter Scheu

F/A-18 Hornet: ATLANTIC OCEAN (July 6, 2007) - An F/A-18E Super Hornet, attached to the "Swordsmen" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 32, approaches the flight deck for an arrested landing aboard Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). Truman is underway in the Atlantic Ocean participating in the composite training unit exercise in preparation for deployment to the Persian Gulf. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Justin Lee LosackF/A-18 Hornet: ATLANTIC OCEAN (July 6, 2007) - An F/A-18E Super Hornet, attached to the "Swordsmen" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 32, approaches the flight deck for an arrested landing aboard Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). Truman is underway in the Atlantic Ocean participating in the composite training unit exercise in preparation for deployment to the Persian Gulf. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Justin Lee Losack

F/A-18 Hornet: PERSIAN GULF (July 4, 2007) - Three F/A-18C Hornets from three different squadrons assigned to Carrier Air Wing 9 fly in formation above Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). Stennis and Carrier Air Wing 9 are on a scheduled deployment in support of the global war on terrorism and maritime operations. Maritime operations help set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment, as well as complement counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman John WagnerF/A-18 Hornet: PERSIAN GULF (July 4, 2007) - Three F/A-18C Hornets from three different squadrons assigned to Carrier Air Wing 9 fly in formation above Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). Stennis and Carrier Air Wing 9 are on a scheduled deployment in support of the global war on terrorism and maritime operations. Maritime operations help set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment, as well as complement counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman John Wagner

F/A-18 Hornet: PACIFIC OCEAN (Aug. 8, 2007) - An F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to the "Black Knights" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 154, launches from the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) for a training mission as part of exercise Valiant Shield. The John C. Stennis, Kitty Hawk and Nimitz Carrier Strike Groups are participating in Valiant Shield 2007, the largest joint exercise in recent history. Held in the Guam operating area, the exercise includes 30 ships, more than 280 aircraft and more than 20,000 service members from the Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Paul J. PerkinsF/A-18 Hornet: PACIFIC OCEAN (Aug. 8, 2007) - An F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to the "Black Knights" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 154, launches from the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) for a training mission as part of exercise Valiant Shield. The John C. Stennis, Kitty Hawk and Nimitz Carrier Strike Groups are participating in Valiant Shield 2007, the largest joint exercise in recent history. Held in the Guam operating area, the exercise includes 30 ships, more than 280 aircraft and more than 20,000 service members from the Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Paul J. Perkins

F/A-18 Hornet: PACIFIC OCEAN (Aug.4, 2007) - Decoy flares fall beneath an F/A-18 Hornet from the Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 27 during an aerial change of command over USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63). During the ceremony, Cmdr. Dan Dwyer was relieved by Cmdr. Greg Huffman. VFA-27 is one of seven squadrons assigned to the Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan-based Carrier Air Wing Five. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Juan Antoine KingF/A-18 Hornet: PACIFIC OCEAN (Aug.4, 2007) - Decoy flares fall beneath an F/A-18 Hornet from the Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 27 during an aerial change of command over USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63). During the ceremony, Cmdr. Dan Dwyer was relieved by Cmdr. Greg Huffman. VFA-27 is one of seven squadrons assigned to the Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan-based Carrier Air Wing Five. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Juan Antoine King

F/A-18 Hornet: PACIFIC OCEAN (Aug. 2, 2007) – An F/A-18A Hornet, assigned to the "Red Devils" of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 232, prepares to land on the flight deck of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68). The Nimitz Strike Group and embarked Carrier Air Wing 11 are deployed in the U.S. 7th Fleet. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Gretchen M. RothF/A-18 Hornet: PACIFIC OCEAN (Aug. 2, 2007) – An F/A-18A Hornet, assigned to the "Red Devils" of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 232, prepares to land on the flight deck of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68). The Nimitz Strike Group and embarked Carrier Air Wing 11 are deployed in the U.S. 7th Fleet. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Gretchen M. Roth

F/A-18 Hornet: PACIFIC OCEAN (JULY 31, 2007) - Capt. Michael Manazir, commanding officer of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68), Capt. David Woods, former Commander, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11, and Capt. Thomas Downing, commander CVW-11, fly by the Nimitz in a F/A-18E and F/A-18F Super Hornets during an airborne change of command ceremony for CVW-11. The Nimitz Strike Group and embarked Carrier Air Wing 11 are deployed in the U.S. 7th Fleet. U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Cmdr. Brian KnollF/A-18 Hornet: PACIFIC OCEAN (JULY 31, 2007) - Capt. Michael Manazir, commanding officer of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68), Capt. David Woods, former Commander, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11, and Capt. Thomas Downing, commander CVW-11, fly by the Nimitz in a F/A-18E and F/A-18F Super Hornets during an airborne change of command ceremony for CVW-11. The Nimitz Strike Group and embarked Carrier Air Wing 11 are deployed in the U.S. 7th Fleet. U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Cmdr. Brian Knoll

F/A-18 Hornet: ATLANTIC OCEAN (Aug. 1, 2007) - An F/A-18C Hornet assigned to the "Wildcats" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 131 breaks the sound barrier during an aerial demonstration for the Sailors aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). Eisenhower is currently underway in the Atlantic Ocean. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Jon DasbachF/A-18 Hornet: ATLANTIC OCEAN (Aug. 1, 2007) - An F/A-18C Hornet assigned to the "Wildcats" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 131 breaks the sound barrier during an aerial demonstration for the Sailors aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). Eisenhower is currently underway in the Atlantic Ocean. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Jon Dasbach

F/A-18 Hornet: PERSIAN GULF (July 20, 2007) – An F/A-18F Super Hornet, assigned to the “Black Aces” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 41, launches off the flight deck of nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68). Nimitz Strike Group and embarked Carrier Air Wing 11 are deployed in U.S. 5th Fleet conducting maritime operations and supporting the global war on terrorism. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Eduardo ZaragozaF/A-18 Hornet: PERSIAN GULF (July 20, 2007) – An F/A-18F Super Hornet, assigned to the “Black Aces” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 41, launches off the flight deck of nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68). Nimitz Strike Group and embarked Carrier Air Wing 11 are deployed in U.S. 5th Fleet conducting maritime operations and supporting the global war on terrorism. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Eduardo Zaragoza

F/A-18 Hornet: PACIFIC OCEAN (Aug. 23, 2007) - Water vapor flows over the wings of an F/A-18F Super Hornet, assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 102, as it performs a high-speed pass during an air power demonstration above USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63). Kitty Hawk is three months into her summer deployment from Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jimmy C. PanF/A-18 Hornet: PACIFIC OCEAN (Aug. 23, 2007) - Water vapor flows over the wings of an F/A-18F Super Hornet, assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 102, as it performs a high-speed pass during an air power demonstration above USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63). Kitty Hawk is three months into her summer deployment from Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jimmy C. Pan

F/A-18 Hornet: PACIFIC OCEAN (Aug. 23, 2007) - An F/A-18F Super Hornet, assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 102, punches through a cloud of water vapor while breaking the sound barrier during an air power demonstration above USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63). Kitty Hawk is three months into her summer deployment from Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jimmy C. PanF/A-18 Hornet: PACIFIC OCEAN (Aug. 23, 2007) - An F/A-18F Super Hornet, assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 102, punches through a cloud of water vapor while breaking the sound barrier during an air power demonstration above USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63). Kitty Hawk is three months into her summer deployment from Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jimmy C. Pan

F/A-18 Hornet: PACIFIC OCEAN (Aug. 23, 2007) - An F/A-18F Super Hornet, assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 102, fires off its flares while performing evasive maneuvers during an air power demonstration above USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63). Kitty Hawk is three months into her summer deployment from Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jimmy C. PanF/A-18 Hornet: PACIFIC OCEAN (Aug. 23, 2007) - An F/A-18F Super Hornet, assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 102, fires off its flares while performing evasive maneuvers during an air power demonstration above USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63). Kitty Hawk is three months into her summer deployment from Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jimmy C. Pan

F/A-18 Hornet: PACIFIC OCEAN (Aug. 9, 2007) - An F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to the "Black Knights" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 154 flies over the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) on approach to land following a training mission as part of exercise Valiant Shield 2007. The John C. Stennis, Kitty Hawk and Nimitz Carrier Strike Groups are participating in Valiant Shield 2007, the largest joint exercise in recent history. Held in the Guam operating area, the exercise includes 30 ships, more than 280 aircraft and more than 20,000 service members from the Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Paul J. PerkinsF/A-18 Hornet: PACIFIC OCEAN (Aug. 9, 2007) - An F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to the "Black Knights" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 154 flies over the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) on approach to land following a training mission as part of exercise Valiant Shield 2007. The John C. Stennis, Kitty Hawk and Nimitz Carrier Strike Groups are participating in Valiant Shield 2007, the largest joint exercise in recent history. Held in the Guam operating area, the exercise includes 30 ships, more than 280 aircraft and more than 20,000 service members from the Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Paul J. Perkins

F/A-18 Hornet: PACIFIC OCEAN (Aug. 24, 2007) - A pair of F/A-18C Hornets, from the "Blue Diamonds" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 146, perform high-speed passes during an air power demonstration over Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). The air power demonstration showed the capability of Stennis and Carrier Air Wing 9 to service members' family and friends who were invited to get underway with the ship. Stennis is returning to the United States after a 7.5-month-long deployment promoting peace, regional cooperation and stability and supporting the global war on terrorism. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ron ReevesF/A-18 Hornet: PACIFIC OCEAN (Aug. 24, 2007) - A pair of F/A-18C Hornets, from the "Blue Diamonds" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 146, perform high-speed passes during an air power demonstration over Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). The air power demonstration showed the capability of Stennis and Carrier Air Wing 9 to service members' family and friends who were invited to get underway with the ship. Stennis is returning to the United States after a 7.5-month-long deployment promoting peace, regional cooperation and stability and supporting the global war on terrorism. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ron Reeves

F/A-18 Hornet: PACIFIC OCEAN (Aug. 24, 2007) - An F/A-18C Hornet, from the "Argonauts" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147, breaks the sound barrier while making a high-speed pass close to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) during an air power demonstration. The air power demonstration showed the capability of Stennis and Carrier Air Wing 9 to service members' family and friends who were invited to get underway with the ship. Stennis is returning to the United States after a 7.5-month-long deployment promoting peace, regional cooperation and stability and supporting the global war on terrorism. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ron ReevesF/A-18 Hornet: PACIFIC OCEAN (Aug. 24, 2007) - An F/A-18C Hornet, from the "Argonauts" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147, breaks the sound barrier while making a high-speed pass close to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) during an air power demonstration. The air power demonstration showed the capability of Stennis and Carrier Air Wing 9 to service members' family and friends who were invited to get underway with the ship. Stennis is returning to the United States after a 7.5-month-long deployment promoting peace, regional cooperation and stability and supporting the global war on terrorism. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ron Reeves

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