Search this Site

McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet

United States Marine Corps. Captain Kevin Reece of the Vertical Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (V.M.F.A.) piloting his F/A-18 Hornet over the South China Sea on the return trip from Paya Lebar. Singapore, to Marine Corps. Air Station (M.C.A.S.) Iwakuni, Japan, supporting Commando Sling.

The F/A-18 Hornet
is an all-weather, carrier capable, fighter/attack aircraft, that was designed in the 1970's for service with the United States Navy, and Marine Corps., air forces from other nations use it too.

Introduced on 7th January, 1983, the Hornet was built to replace the F-4 Phantom, A-4 Skyhawk, A-7 Corsair, and to complement the F-14 Tomcat. It was very versatile, and reliable, and its main roles are fighter escort, fleet air defence, suppression of enemy air defences (S.E.A.D.), interdiction, close air support, and reconnaissance. It first saw action during Operations Prairie Fire, and El Dorado Canyon. VFA-131 Hornets from U.S.S. Coral Sea were involved.

The origins of the F/A-18 Hornet lies in the experimental aircraft YF-17 Cobra. The Cobra was designed as many from the fighter community believed the F-15 Eagle's price, and size was too large for many combat roles. Originally designed to be a lightweight day fighter, the YF-17 was navalized, scaled-up, and in-turn, became the F/A-18 Hornet. The Cobra shared no essential dimension, or primary structure with the Hornet.

An F/A-18 Hornet of VFA-146 "Blue Diamonds" in flight on a mission during Operation Enduring Freedom. (Photographed by Lt. Kyle "Chet" Turco, United States Navy. Date is unknown. I apologize for any inconvenience.)

Variants of the F/A-18 Hornet are the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, which is a distinct, and evolutionary upgrade of the Hornet, and the EA-18G Growler, an electronic warfare version of the F/A-18.

The following is a list of countries that currently operates the F/A-18 Hornet.

The F/A-18 has been criticized for its low range, and payload compared to its comtemporaries.


General characteristics

  • Crew: F/A-18C: 1, F/A-18D: 2 (pilot and weapons system officer)
  • Length: 56 ft (17.1 m)
  • Wingspan: 40 ft (12.3 m)
  • Height: 15 ft 4 in (4.7 m)
  • Wing area: 400 ft² (38 m²)
  • Airfoil: NACA 65A005 mod root, 65A003.5 mod tip
  • Empty weight: 23,000 lb (10,400 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 36,970 lb (16,770 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 51,900 lb (23,500 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2× General Electric F404-GE-402 turbofans
  • Dry thrust: 11,000 lbf (48.9 kN) each
  • Thrust with afterburner: 17,750 lbf (79.2 kN) each
  • Performance
  • Maximum speed: Mach 1.8 (1,190 mph, 1,915 km/h) at 40,000 ft (12,190 m)
  • Range: 1,089 nmi (1,250 miles, 2,000 km) with only two AIM-9s
  • Combat radius: 400 nmi (460 mi, 740 km) on air-air mission
  • Ferry range: 1,800 nmi (2,070 mi, 3,330 km)
  • Service ceiling: 50,000 ft (15,240 m)
  • Rate of climb: 50,000 ft/min (254 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 93 lb/ft² (454 kg/m²)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.96


  • Guns: 1× 20 mm (0.787 in) M61 Vulcan nose mounted 6-barreled gatling cannon, 578 rounds
  • Hardpoints: 9 total: 2× wingtips missile launch rail, 4× under-wing, and 3× under-fuselage with a capacity of 13,700 lb (6,215 kg) external fuel and ordnance


  • 2.75 inches (70 mm) Hydra 70 rockets
  • 5 in (127.0 mm) Zuni rockets
  • Missiles:
  • Air-to-air missiles:
  • AIM-9 Sidewinder or 4× AIM-132 ASRAAM or 4× IRIS-T or 4× AIM-120 AMRAAM, and
  • AIM-7 Sparrow or additional 2× AIM-120 AMRAAM

Air-to-surface missiles:

  • AGM-65 Maverick
  • Standoff Land Attack Missile (SLAM-ER)
  • AGM-88 HARM Anti-radiation missile (ARM)
  • AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW)
  • Taurus missile (Cruise missile)

Anti-ship missile:

  • AGM-84 Harpoon
  • JDAM Precision-guided munition (PGMs)
  • Paveway series of Laser guided bombs
  • Mk 80 series of unguided iron bombs
  • CBU-87 cluster
  • CBU-89 gator mine
  • CBU-97
  • Mk 20 Rockeye II
  • B61/Mk57 nuclear bombs


  • SUU-42A/A Flares/Infrared decoys dispenser pod and chaff pod or
  • Electronic countermeasures (ECM) pod or
  • AN/AAS-38 Nite Hawk Targeting pods (US Navy only), to be replaced byAN/ASQ-228 ATFLIR or
  • LITENING targeting pod (USMC, Royal Australian Air Force, Spanish Air Force, and Finnish Air Force only) or
  • up to 3× 330 US gallons (1,200 l; 270 imp gal) Sargent Fletcher drop tanks for ferry flight or extended range/loitering time.


  • Hughes APG-73 radar
  • ROVER (Remotely Operated Video Enhanced Receiver) antenna for use by US Navy's F/A-18C strike fighter squadrons

No comments: