Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet Airplane Videos and Airplane Pictures

Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet Video - Picture


Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet Video - Promotional video by Raytheon

Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet Aircraft Information

Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet

F/A-18E/F Super Hornet

Warbird Picture - A US Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet conducts a mission over the Persian Gulf

Picture - A US Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet conducts a mission over the Persian Gulf

Role: Carrier-capable multirole fighter
National origin: United States
Manufacturer: McDonnell Douglas Boeing Defense, Space & Security
First flight: 29 November 1995
Introduction: 1999
Status: In production, in service
Primary users: United States Navy Royal Australian Air Force
Produced: 1995-present
Number built: 400 as of 2009
Unit cost: US$55 million (2011 flyaway cost)
Developed from: F/A-18 Hornet
Variants: EA-18G Growler

The Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is a twin-engine 4.5 generation carrier-based multirole fighter aircraft. The F/A-18E single-seat variant and F/A-18F tandem-seat variant are larger and more advanced derivatives of the F/A-18C and D Hornet. The Super Hornet has an internal 20 mm gun and can carry air-to-air missiles and air-to-surface weapons. Additional fuel can be carried with up to five external fuel tanks and the aircraft can be configured as an airborne tanker by adding an external air refueling system.

Designed and initially produced by McDonnell Douglas, the Super Hornet first flew in 1995. Full-rate production began in September 1997, after the merger of McDonnell Douglas and Boeing the previous month. The Super Hornet entered service with the United States Navy in 1999, replacing the F-14 Tomcat since 2006, and serves alongside the original Hornet. The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), which has operated the F/A-18A as its main fighter since 1984, ordered the F/A-18F in 2007 to replace its aging F-111 fleet. RAAF Super Hornets entered service in December 2010.



The Super Hornet is a larger and more advanced variant of the F/A-18C/D Hornet. An early version was marketed by McDonnell Douglas as Hornet 2000 in the 1980s. The Hornet 2000 concept was an advanced version of the F/A-18 with a larger wing and a longer fuselage to carry more fuel and more powerful engines.

US Naval Aviation faced a number of problems in the early 1990s. The A-12 Avenger II program, intended to replace the obsolete A-6 Intruders and A-7 Corsair IIs, had run into serious problems and was canceled. During this time the end of the Cold War resulted in military restructuring and budget cuts. With no clean-sheet program in the works, the Navy considered updating an existing design a more attractive approach. As an alternative to the A-12, McDonnell Douglas proposed the "Super Hornet" (initially "Hornet II" in the 1980s) to improve early F/A-18 models, and serve as an alternate replacement for the A-6 Intruder. At the same time, the Navy needed a fleet defense fighter to replace the canceled NATF, which was a proposed navalized variant of the F-22 Raptor.

Testing and production

The Super Hornet was first ordered by the U.S. Navy in 1992. The Navy would also direct that this fighter replace the aging F-14 Tomcat, essentially basing all naval combat jets on Hornet variants until the introduction of the F-35C Lightning II. The Navy retained the F/A-18 designation to help sell the program to Congress as a low-risk "derivative", though the Super Hornet is largely a new aircraft. The Hornet and Super Hornet share many design and flight characteristics, including avionics, ejection seats, radar, armament, mission computer software, and maintenance/operating procedures. In particular the initial F/A-18E/F retained most of the avionics systems from the F/A-18C/D's then current configuration.

Airplane Picture - Four F/A-18Fs of VFA-41

Picture - Four F/A-18Fs of VFA-41 "Black Aces" fly over the Pacific in a trail formation in 2003. Note AN/ASQ-228 ATFLIR pods on the first and third aircraft, and a buddy store tank on the fourth aircraft

The Super Hornet first flew on 29 November 1995. Initial production on the F/A-18E/F began in 1995. Flight testing started in 1996 with the F/A-18E/F's first carrier landing in 1997. Low-rate production began in March 1997 with full production beginning in September 1997. Testing continued through 1999, finishing with sea trials and aerial refueling demonstrations. Testing involved 3,100 test flights covering 4,600 flight hours. The Super Hornet underwent U.S. Navy operational tests and evaluations in 1999, and was approved in February 2000.

The Navy considers acquisition of the Super Hornet a success with it meeting cost, schedule, and weight (400 lb, 181 kg below) requirements. Despite having the same general layout and systems, the Super Hornet differs in many ways from the original F/A-18 Hornet. The Super Hornet is informally referred to as the "Rhino" to distinguish it from earlier model "legacy" Hornets and prevents confusion in radio calls. This aids safe flight operations, since the catapult and arresting systems must be set differently for the heavier Super Hornet. The "Rhino" nickname was earlier used by the F-4 Phantom II, retired from the fleet in 1987.

The U.S. Navy currently flies both the F/A-18E single-seater and F/A-18F two-seater in combat roles, taking the place of the retired F-14, A-6 Intruder, S-3 Viking, and KA-6D. An electronic warfare variant, the EA-18G Growler, will replace the aging EA-6B Prowler. The Navy calls this reduction in aircraft types a "neck-down". In the Vietnam War era, the Super Hornet's capabilities were covered by no less than the A-1/A-4/A-7 (light attack), A-6 (medium attack), F-8/F-4 (fighter), RA-5C (recon), KA-3/KA-6 (tanker) and EA-6 (electronic warfare). It is anticipated that $1 billion in fleet wide annual savings will result from replacing other types with the Super Hornet.

In 2003, the Navy identified a flaw in the Super Hornet's under wing pylons, which could reduce the aircraft's service life unless repaired. The problem has been corrected on new airplanes and existing airplanes will be repaired starting in 2009.

After initial fleet integration began, Boeing upgraded to the block II version of the aircraft, incorporating an improved AESA radar, changing to larger displays, integrating joint helmet mounted cuing system, and replacing many aircraft avionics.


In early 2008, Boeing discussed creating a Super Hornet Block III with the U.S. and Australian militaries. It would be a generation 4.75 upgrade with extra forward stealth capabilities and extended range, to be succeeded in 2024 by a sixth-generation fighter (F/A-XX).

Development of an improved F414 engine version with better resistance to foreign object damage, and a reduced fuel burn rate is underway in 2009. Work is also being done on possible performance improvements to increase thrust by 20%.

Boeing is studying a centerline pod, which will have four internal stations for two AIM-120 AMRAAMs and two 500-lb Joint Direct Attack Munitions in a similar fashion to the Boeing F-15SE Silent Eagle's Conformal Weapons Bays, but with less stealth. Other improvements include a chin mounted IRST and all aspect missile and laser warning, in the same fashion as the F-35.

Boeing has offered India a "International Super Hornet Roadmap" which includes:

Conformal fuel tanks
Enhanced Performance Engines
Spherical missile / laser warning
Enclosed weapons pod
Next-generation cockpit
Internal Infra-Red Search & Track (IRST)


The Super Hornet is largely a new aircraft. It is about 20% larger, 7,000 lb (3,200 kg) heavier empty, and 15,000 lb (6,800 kg) heavier at maximum weight than the original Hornet. The Super Hornet carries 33% more internal fuel, increasing mission range by 41% and endurance by 50% over the "Legacy" Hornet. The empty weight of the Super Hornet is about 11,000 lb (5,000 kg) less than that of the F-14 Tomcat that it replaced, while approaching, but not matching its payload / range.

Airframe changes

Airplane Picture - Rectangular Super Hornet vs oval Hornet air intakes

Picture - Rectangular Super Hornet vs oval Hornet air intakes

The forward fuselage is unchanged but the remainder of the aircraft shares little with earlier F/A-18C/D models. The fuselage was stretched by 34 inches (860 mm) to make room for fuel and future avionics upgrades and increased the wing area by 25%. However, the Super Hornet has 42% fewer structural parts than the original Hornet design. The General Electric F414 engine, developed from the Hornet's F404, has 35% additional thrust over most of aircraft's flight envelope. The Super Hornet can return to an aircraft carrier with a larger load of unspent fuel and munitions than the original Hornet. The term for this ability is known as "bringback". Bringback for the Super Hornet is in excess of 9,000 pounds (4,100 kg).

Other differences include rectangular intakes for the engines and two extra wing hard points for payload (for a total of 11). Among the most significant aerodynamic changes are the enlarged leading edge extensions (LEX) which provide improved vortex lifting characteristics in high angle of attack maneuvers, and reduce the static stability margin to enhance pitching characteristics. This results in pitch rates in excess of 40 degrees per second, and high resistance to departure from controlled flight.

Radar signature reduction measures

Survivability is an important feature of the Super Hornet design. The US Navy took a "balanced approach" to survivability in its design. This means that it does not rely on low-observable technology, such as stealth systems, to the exclusion of other survivability factors. Instead, its design incorporates a combination of stealth, advanced electronic-warfare capabilities, reduced ballistic vulnerability, the use of standoff weapons, and innovative tactics that cumulatively and collectively enhance the safety of the fighter and crew.

Airplane Picture - Two U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets fly a combat patrol over Afghanistan in 2008. The aircraft banking away in the background can be seen launching infra-red countermeasure flares.

Picture - Two U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets fly a combat patrol over Afghanistan in 2008. The aircraft banking away in the background can be seen launching infra-red countermeasure flares.

The F/A-18E/F's radar cross section was reduced greatly from some aspects, mainly the front and rear. The design of the engine inlets reduces the aircraft's frontal radar cross section. The alignment of the leading edges of the engine inlets is designed to scatter radiation to the sides. Fixed fanlike reflecting structures in the inlet tunnel divert radar energy away from the rotating fan blades.

The Super Hornet also makes considerable use of panel joint serration and edge alignment. Considerable attention has been paid to the removal or filling of unnecessary surface join gaps and resonant cavities. Where the F/A-18A-D used grilles to cover various accessory exhaust and inlet ducts, the F/A-18E/F uses perforated panels that appear opaque to radar waves at the frequencies used. Careful attention has been paid to the alignment of many panel boundaries and edges, to direct reflected waves away from the aircraft in uniformly narrow angles.

It is claimed that the Super Hornet employs the most extensive radar cross section reduction measures of any contemporary fighter, other than the F-22 and F-35. While the F/A-18E/F is not a true stealth fighter like the F-22, it will have a frontal RCS an order of magnitude smaller than prior generation fighters.


The Super Hornet's original avionics and software have a 90% commonality with then current F/A-18C/Ds. The Super Hornet features a new touch-sensitive, up-front control display; a larger, liquid crystal multipurpose color display; and a new engine fuel display. The Super Hornet has a quadruplex digital fly-by-wire system, as well as a digital flight-control system that detects and corrects for battle damage. Initial production models used the APG-73 radar, later replaced by the APG-79 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA). The AN/ASQ-228 ATFLIR (Advanced Targeting Forward Looking InfraRed), is the main electro-optical sensor and laser designator pod for the Super Hornet. The communications equipment consist of an AN/AR-210 VHF/UHF radio and a MIDS low volume terminal for HAVE QUICK, SINCGARS and Link 16 connectivity.

The defensive countermeasures of block I aircraft includes the AN/ALR-67(V)3 radar warning receiver, the AN/ALE-47 countermeasures dispenser, the AN/ALE-50 towed decoy and the AN/ALQ-165 Airborne Self-Protect Jammer (ASPJ). Newer block II aircraft replace the ALQ-165 with the AN/ALQ-214 Integrated Defensive Countermeasures (IDECM) system which consists of internally mounted threat receivers and optional self-protection jammers. The interior and exterior lighting on the block II has also been changed to allow the air crew to use night vision goggles (NVG). The older ALE-50 decoys are being replaced by ALE-55 towed decoys, which can transmit jamming signals based on data received from the IDECM.

Tanker role

Airplane Picture - An F/A-18F refueling an F/A-18E over the Bay of Bengal, 2007

Picture - An F/A-18F refueling an F/A-18E over the Bay of Bengal, 2007

The Super Hornet, unlike the previous Hornet, is designed so it can be equipped with an aerial refueling system (ARS) or "buddy store" for the refueling of other aircraft, filling the tactical airborne tanker role the Navy had lost with the retirement of the KA-6D and S-3B Viking tankers. The ARS includes an external 330 US gallons (1,200 L) tank with hose reel on the centerline along with four external 480 US gallons (1,800 L) tanks and internal tanks for a total of 29,000 pounds (13,000 kg) of fuel on the aircraft. While useful, this technique is less than ideal, as for a given mission the carrier's complement of fighters is effectively halved since each "buddy tanker" can refuel one aircraft at a time.


Beginning in 2005, new build aircraft received the APG-79 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar. Earlier production aircraft will have their APG-73 replaced with the APG-79. In January 2008, 135 earlier production aircraft were to receive the AESA radar via retrofits.

The new APG-79 AESA radar offers several advantages for the Super Hornet. The new radar enables its crew to execute simultaneous air-to-air and air-to-ground attacks. The APG-79 also provides higher quality high-resolution ground mapping at long standoff ranges. The AESA radar can also detect smaller targets, such as inbound missiles and can track air targets beyond the range of the Super Hornet's own air to air missiles. VFA-213 became "safe for flight" (independently fly and maintain the F/A-18F) on 27 October 2006 and is the first Super Hornet squadron to fly AESA-equipped Super Hornets.

Airplane Picture - F/A-18F at RIAT 2004

Picture - F/A-18F at RIAT 2004

The AN/ALE-55 Fiber-Optic Towed Decoy will replace the ALE-50. The improved AN/ALQ-214 jammer was added on Super Hornet Block II.

The first Super Hornet upgraded with an aft cockpit Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS) was delivered to VFA-213 on 18 May 2007. VFA-213 is the first squadron to receive the Dual-Cockpit Cueing System for both pilot and Weapon systems officer. The JHMCS provides multi-purpose aircrew situational awareness including high-off-bore-sight cueing of the AIM-9X Sidewinder missile. Shared Reconnaissance Pod (SHARP) is a high-resolution, digital tactical air reconnaissance system that features advanced day/night and all-weather capability.

In the future, air-to-air target detection using Infrared Search and Track (IRST) in the form of a passive, long range sensor that detects long wave IR emissions will be an option with a unique solution. This new device will be a sensor built into the front of a centerline external fuel tank. Operational capability of this device is expected in 2013. On 18 May 2009, Lockheed Martin announced it had been selected by Boeing to conduct the technology development phase of this sensor.

The Multifunctional Information Distribution System low volume terminal is being upgraded with the MIDS-JTRS, which will allow a tenfold increase in bandwidth as well as compatibility with the Joint Tactiacl Radio System standards. Initial operational capability is planned for January 2011.

Operational history

United States Navy

Airplane Picture - A U.S. Navy F/A-18E above the deck of USS Abraham Lincoln in 2002

Picture - A U.S. Navy F/A-18E above the deck of USS Abraham Lincoln in 2002

The Super Hornet achieved initial operating capability (IOC) in September 2001 with the U.S. Navy's VFA-115 squadron at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California. VFA-115 was also the first unit to take their F/A-18 Super Hornets into combat. On 6 November 2002, two F/A-18Es conducted a "Response Option" strike in support of Operation Southern Watch on two surface-to-air missile launchers at Al Kut and an air defense command and control bunker at Tallil air base. One of the pilots, Lieutenant John Turner, dropped 2,000 pounds (910 kg) JDAM bombs for the first time from the Super Hornet during combat.

In support of the Operation Iraqi Freedom (Iraq War), VFA-14, VFA-41 and VFA-115 flew close air support, strike, escort, SEAD and aerial refueling sorties. Two F/A-18Es from VFA-14 and two F/A-18Fs from VFA-41 were forward deployed to the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72). The VFA-14 aircraft flew mostly as aerial refuelers and the VFA-41 fighters as Forward Air Controller (Airborne) or FAC(A)s. On 6 April 2005, VFA-154 and VFA-147 (the latter squadron then still operating F/A-18Cs) dropped two 500-pound (230 kg) laser-guided bombs on enemy insurgent location east of Baghdad.

Airplane Picture - An F/A-18F parked on the flight deck of aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, as the ship operates in the Arabian Sea, December 2006

Picture - An F/A-18F parked on the flight deck of aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, as the ship operates in the Arabian Sea, December 2006

On 8 September 2006, VFA-211 F/A-18F Super Hornets expended GBU-12 and GBU-38 bombs against Taliban fighters and Taliban fortifications west and northwest of Kandahar. This was the first time the unit was in combat with the Super Hornet.

During the 2006-2007 cruise with USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, VFA-103 and VFA-143 supported Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom and operations off the Somali coast. Alongside "Legacy Hornet" squadrons, VFA-131 and VFA-83, they dropped 140 precision guided weapons and performed nearly 70 strafing runs.

In 2007 Boeing proposed additional F/A-18E/Fs to the US Navy in a multi-year contract. In 2008, it was reported that the Navy was considering buying additional F/A-18 Super Hornets to bridge a "strike-fighter" gap. As of October 2008, Boeing had delivered 367 Super Hornets to the US Navy.

Airplane Picture - Video of F/A-18E/F Super Hornet taking off

Picture - Video of F/A-18E/F Super Hornet taking off

On 6 April 2009, Defense Secretary Gates announced that the Department of Defense intends to acquire further 31 F/A-18s in FY2010. Congressional action has requested that the DoD study a further multi-year contract in order to avoid a projected strike fighter shortfall. The FY2010 budget bill authorizes, but does not require, a multiyear purchase agreement for additional Super Hornets.

On 14 May 2010, it was reported that Boeing and the US Department of Defense reached an agreement for a multi-year contract for an additional 66 F/A-18E/Fs and 58 EA-18Gs over the next four years. The latest order for 124 aircraft will raise the total fleet count to 515 F/A-18E/Fs and 114 EA-18Gs. However the Navy is already 60 fighters below its validated requirement for fighter aircraft and this purchase will not close the gap. The deal was finalized on 28 September 2010 for a multi-year contract said to save $600 million (over per year contracts) for 66 Super Hornets and 58 Growlers and to help deal with a four-year delay in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.

Royal Australian Air Force

On 3 May 2007, the Australian Government signed a contract to acquire 24 F/A-18Fs for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), at a cost of A$2.9 billion, as an interim replacement for the aging F-111s. The total cost with training and support over 10 years is A$6 billion (US$4.6 billion). The Super Hornet order has resulted from concern that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) will not be operational by the time the F-111s are retired.

The order has proved to be controversial, with the critics including some retired senior RAAF officers. Air Vice Marshal (ret.) Peter Criss, a former Air Commander Australia, said he was "absolutely astounded" that the Australian government would spend A$6 billion on an interim aircraft. Criss has also cited evidence given by the US Senate Armed Services Committee that the Super Hornet Block I specific excess power is inferior to the MiG-29 and Su-30, which are already operated, or have been ordered, by air forces in South East Asia. Air Commodore (ret.) Ted Bushell stated that the F/A-18F could not perform the role that the Australian government had given it, and the F-111 airframe design would remain suitable for the strategic deterrent/strike role until at least 2020. Some critics have claimed that the decision to buy the F/A-18F merely serves to ease the sale of additional Super Hornets to Australia, should the F-35 program "encounter more problems".

Airplane Picture - A RAAF F/A-18F shortly after it first arrived in Australia

Picture - A RAAF F/A-18F shortly after it first arrived in Australia

The initial Block II package offered to the RAAF will include installed engines and six spares, APG-79 AESA radars, Link 16 connectivity, LAU-127 guided missile launchers, AN/ALE-55 fiber optic towed decoys and other equipment. On 31 December 2007, the new Australian Labor government announced that it would review the purchase as part of a wider review of the RAAF's fighter procurement plans, with the possibility of the order for F/A-18Fs being either reduced or canceled. The main reasons given were concerns over operational suitability, the lack of a proper review process, and internal beliefs that an interim fighter was not required.

On 17 March 2008, the Government announced that it would proceed with plans to acquire all 24 F/A-18Fs. The Government has also sought US export approval for EA-18G Growlers. On 27 February 2009 Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon announced that 12 of the 24 Super Hornets would be wired on the production line for future modification as EA-18Gs. The additional wiring would cost A$35 million. The final decision on conversion to EA-18Gs, at a cost of A$300 million, would be made in 2012. The first RAAF Super Hornet was completed in 2009 and first flew from Boeing's factory in St. Louis, Missouri on 21 July 2009.

Airplane Picture - A VFA-11 F/A-18F Super Hornet performing evasive maneuvers during an air power demonstration

Picture - A VFA-11 F/A-18F Super Hornet performing evasive maneuvers during an air power demonstration

RAAF pilots and air combat officers began training in the USA in 2009, with No. 1 Squadron planned to become fully operational with the F/A-18F in 2010. The RAAF's first five Super Hornets arrived at their home base, RAAF Base Amberley in Queensland, on 26 March 2010. These initial aircraft were joined by six more aircraft on 7 July 2010. With the arrival of another four aircraft in December 2010, the first RAAF F/A-18F squadron was declared operational on 9 December 2010.

Potential operators

The United States Marine Corps has avoided the Super Hornet program and their resistance is so high that they would rather fly old Navy F/A-18Cs that have been replaced with Super Hornets. This is said to be because they fear that any Super Hornet buys will be at the cost of the F-35B STOVL fighters that they intend to operate from amphibious ships.

Boeing offered Malaysia the Super Hornets as part of a buy-back package for its existing F/A-18 Hornets in 2002. However, the Super Hornet procurement was halted after the government decided to purchase the Sukhoi Su-30MKM instead in 2007. But RMAF Chief Gen. Datuk Nik Ismail Nik Mohamaed indicated that the RMAF had not planned to end procurement of the Super Hornets, instead saying that the air force needed such fighters.

Airplane Picture - U.S. Navy F/A-18F from VFA-106 Gladiators at Paris Air Show 2007

Picture - U.S. Navy F/A-18F from VFA-106 Gladiators at Paris Air Show 2007

Boeing has delivered Super Hornet proposals to the Danish and Brazilian governments in 2008. The Super Hornet is one of three fighter aircraft in a Danish competition to replace 48 F-16s. In October 2008, it was reported the Super Hornet was selected as one of three finalists in Brazil's fighter competition. Brazil has put forward an initial requirement for 36 planes, with a potential total purchase of 120. In 2008, the Danish Air Force had been offered the Super Hornet as but no concrete orders have been placed.

Boeing submitted a proposal for India's Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) competition on 24 April 2008. The Super Hornet variant being offered to India is named F/A-18IN. It will include Raytheon's APG-79 AESA radar. In August 2008, Boeing submitted an industrial participation proposal to India describing partnerships with companies in India. Super Hornets arrived in India for field trials on 18 August 2009.

On 10 March 2009, Boeing offered the Super Hornet for Greece's Next-Generation Fighter Program.

The House version of the fiscal 2010 defense authorization bill includes language that advises the USAF to consider adopting Super Hornets in order to avoid a gap in the nation's air defenses while the JSF ramps up.

On 1 August 2010, The Sunday Times reported that the British government was considering canceling orders for the F-35 Lightning II and buying the Super Hornet for its Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers instead. It is claimed that this would save the UK defence budget about 10 billion. An industry source has suggested that the Super Hornet could even be skijump launched without catapults.

The United Arab Emirates has asked for information on the Super Hornet.

Airplane Picture - F/A-18E/F Super Hornet Operators 2010

Picture - F/A-18E/F Super Hornet Operators 2010

Boeing complained that the "stealth characteristics" of the Super Hornet were ignored in Canada's sole source selection of the F-35.


F/A-18E Super Hornet: single seat variant
F/A-18F Super Hornet: two-seat variant
EA-18G Growler: The electronic warfare version of the F/A-18F Super Hornet. Went into low rate production in 2007, with fleet deployment in 2009. The EA-18G will replace the U.S. Navy's EA-6B Prowler.


Airplane Picture - A VFA-122 F/A-18F pulling a high-g maneuver at the NAS Oceana

Picture - A VFA-122 F/A-18F pulling a high-g maneuver at the NAS Oceana "In Pursuit of Liberty" air show, 2004


Royal Australian Air Force
No. 1 Squadron RAAF
No. 6 Squadron RAAF (from January 2011)

United States

United States Navy
Pacific Fleet
VFA-2 "Bounty Hunters" (F/A-18F)
VFA-14 "Tophatters" (F/A-18E)
VFA-22 "Fighting Redcocks" (F/A-18F)
VFA-27 "Royal Maces" (F/A-18E)
VFA-41 "Black Aces" (F/A-18F)
VFA-102 "Diamondbacks" (F/A-18F)
VFA-115 "Eagles" (F/A-18E)
VFA-122 "Flying Eagles" (Fleet Replacement Squadron, operates F/A-18E/F)
VFA-137 "Kestrels" (F/A-18E)
VFA-147 "Argonauts" (F/A-18E)
VFA-154 "Black Knights" (F/A-18F)
VFA-195 "Dambusters" (F/A-18E) (Currently transitioning)
Atlantic Fleet
VFA-11 "Red Rippers" (F/A-18F)
VFA-31 "Tomcatters" (F/A-18E)
VFA-32 "Swordsmen" (F/A-18F)
VFA-34 "Blue Blasters" (F/A-18E)
VFA-81 "Sunliners" (F/A-18E)
VFA-103 "Jolly Rogers" (F/A-18F)
VFA-105 "Gunslingers" (F/A-18E)
VFA-106 "Gladiators" (Fleet Replacement Squadron, operates F/A-18A/B/C/D/E/F)
VFA-136 "Knighthawks" (F/A-18E)
VFA-143 "Pukin' Dogs" (F/A-18E)
VFA-211 "Fighting Checkmates" (F/A-18F)
VFA-213 "Black Lions" (F/A-18F)
Test and Evaluation Units
VX-9 Vampires (Air Test and Evaluation Squadron, operates F/A-18E/F and other aircraft)
VX-23 Salty Dogs (Air Test and Evaluation Squadron, operates F/A-18E/F and other aircraft)
VX-31 Dust Devils (Air Test and Evaluation Squadron, operates F/A-18E/F and other aircraft)
NSAWC (Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center), received F/A-18F, also operates other aircraft)

Each squadron has a standard unit establishment of 12 aircraft. The F/A-18E/F transition is still in progress as of early 2007.

Specifications (F/A-18E/F)

Data from U.S. Navy fact file, Aerospaceweb

General characteristics

Crew: F/A-18E: 1, F/A-18F: 2
Length: 60 ft 1 in (18.31 m)
Wingspan: 44 ft 8 in (13.62 m)
Height: 16 ft (4.88 m)
Wing area: 500 ft (46.5 m)
Empty weight: 32,081 lb (14,552 kg)
Loaded weight: 47,000 lb (21,320 kg) (in fighter configuration)
Max takeoff weight: 66,000 lb (29,937 kg)
Powerplant: 2x General Electric F414-GE-400 turbofans
Dry thrust: 14,000 lbf (62.3 kN) each
Thrust with afterburner: 22,000 lbf (97.9 kN) each
Internal fuel capacity: F/A-18E: 14,400 lb (6,780 kg), F/A-18F: 13,550 lb (6,354 kg)
External fuel capacity: 5 x 480 gal tanks, totaling 16,380 lb (7,381 kg)


Maximum speed: Mach 1.8+ (1,190 mph, 1,900 km/h) at 40,000 ft (12,190 m)
Range: 1,275 nmi (2,346 km) clean plus two AIM-9s
Combat radius: 390 nmi (449 mi, 722 km) for interdiction mission
Ferry range: 1,800 nmi (2,070 mi, 3,330 km)
Service ceiling: 50,000+ ft (15,000+ m)
Wing loading: 94.0 lb/ft (459 kg/m)
Thrust/weight: 0.93
Design load factor: 7.6 g


Guns: 1x 20 mm (0.787 in) M61 Vulcan nose mounted gatling gun, 578 rounds
Hardpoints: 11 total: 2x wingtips, 6x under-wing, and 3x under-fuselage with a capacity of 17,750 lb (8,050 kg) external fuel and ordnance
Air-to-air missiles:
4x AIM-9 Sidewinder or 4x AIM-120 AMRAAM, and
2x AIM-7 Sparrow or additional 2x AIM-120 AMRAAM
Air-to-surface missiles:
AGM-65 Maverick
Standoff Land Attack Missile (SLAM-ER)
AGM-88 HARM Anti-radiation missile
AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW)
Anti-ship missile:
AGM-84 Harpoon
JDAM Precision-guided munition (PGMs)
Paveway series of Laser guided bombs
Mk 80 series of unguided iron bombs
CBU-87 cluster
CBU-78 Gator
Mk 20 Rockeye II
SUU-42A/A Flares/Infrared decoys dispenser pod and chaff pod or
Electronic countermeasures (ECM) pod or
AN/ASQ-228 ATFLIR Targeting pods or
up to 3x 330 US gallon (1,200 L) Sargent Fletcher drop tanks for ferry flight or extended range/loitering time or
1x 330 US gal (1,200 L) tank and 4x 480 US gal (1,800 L) tanks for aerial refueling system (ARS).


Hughes APG-73 or Raytheon APG-79 Radar
Northrop Grumman/ITT AN/ALE-165 self-protection jammer pod or BAE Systems AN/ALE-214 integrated defensive electronic countermeasures system
Raytheon AN/ALE-50 or BAE Systems AN/ALE-55 towed decoy
Northrop Grumman AN/ALR-67(V)3 radar warning receiver
MIDS LVT or MIDS JTRS datalink transceiver

Notable appearances in media

Jane's Combat Simulations released a simulator based on the F/A-18E Super Hornet titled "Jane's F/A-18" in 2000. The Super Hornet is the main carrier jet in the film Behind Enemy Lines. An F/A-18F is shot down in the movie. Another PC simulator titled "Top Gun: Hornet's Nest" also focuses on the Super Hornet. Vertical Reality Simulations has also released an F/A-18E for use in Microsoft's Flight Simulator games.

Related development

Northrop YF-17
McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet
Boeing EA-18G Growler

Comparable aircraft

Chengdu J-10
Dassault Rafale
Eurofighter Typhoon
Grumman F-14 Tomcat
McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle
Mikoyan MiG-29K
Mikoyan MiG-35
Sukhoi Su-33



Donald, David. "Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet", Warplanes of the Fleet. London: AIRtime Publishing Inc, 2004. ISBN 1-880588-81-1.
Elward, Brad. Boeing F/A-18 Hornet (WarbirdTech, Vol. 31). North Branch, MN: Specialty Press, 2001. ISBN 1-58007-041-8.
Holmes, Tony. US Navy Hornet Units of Operation Iraqi Freedom. London: Osprey Publishing, 2004. ISBN 1-84176-801-4.
Jenkins, Dennis R. F/A-18 Hornet: A Navy Success Story. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2000. ISBN 0-07-134696-1.
Winchester, Jim. The Encyclopedia of Modern Aircraft. San Diego: Thunder Bay Press, 2006. ISBN 1-59223-628-6.

Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet Pictures

Living Warbirds: The best warbirds DVD series.

Source: WikiPedia

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