F/A-18 Hornet

McDonnell Douglas

F/A-18 Hornet

F/A-18 Hornet

The McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet is a twin-engine, supersonic, all-weather, carrier-capable, multirole combat jet, designed as both a fighter and attack aircraft (hence the F/A designation). Designed by McDonnell Douglas (now part of Boeing) and Northrop (now part of Northrop Grumman), the F/A-18 was derived from the latter's YF-17 in the 1970s for use by the United States Navy and Marine Corps. The Hornet is also used by the air forces of several other nations, and formerly, by the U.S. Navy's Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels.

The F/A-18 was designed to be a highly versatile aircraft due to its avionics, cockpit displays, and excellent aerodynamic characteristics, with the ability to carry a wide variety of weapons. The aircraft can perform fighter escort, fleet air defense, suppression of enemy air defenses, air interdiction, close air support, and aerial reconnaissance. Its versatility and reliability have proven it to be a valuable carrier asset, though it has been criticized for its lack of range and payload compared to its earlier contemporaries, such as the Grumman F-14 Tomcat in the fighter and strike fighter role, and the Grumman A-6 Intruder and LTV A-7 Corsair II in the attack role.

The Hornet first saw combat action during the 1986 United States bombing of Libya and subsequently participated in the 1991 Gulf War and 2003 Iraq War. The F/A-18 Hornet served as the baseline for the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, its larger, evolutionary redesign.


General characteristics

Crew: 1 (C)/2 (D - pilot and weapon systems officer)
Length: 56 ft 1 in (17.1 m)
Wingspan: 40 ft 4 in (12.3 m) with AIM-9 Sidewinders on wingtip LAU-7 launchers
Width: 27 ft 7 in (8.4 m) wing folded
Height: 15 ft 5 in (4.7 m)
Wing area: 410 sq ft (38 m2)
Aspect ratio: 4
Airfoil: root:NACA 65A005 mod.; tip:NACA 65A003.5 mod.
Empty weight: 23,000 lb (10,433 kg)
Gross weight: 36,970 lb (16,769 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 51,900 lb (23,541 kg)
Fuel capacity: 10,860 pounds (4,930 kg) internally
Powerplant: 2 × General Electric F404-GE-402 afterburning turbofan engines, 11,000 lbf (49 kN) thrust each dry, 17,750 lbf (79.0 kN) with afterburner

Maximum speed: 1,034 kn (1,190 mph, 1,915 km/h) at 40,000 ft (12,000 m)
Maximum speed: Mach 1.8
Cruise speed: 570 kn (660 mph, 1,060 km/h)
Range: 1,089 nmi (1,253 mi, 2,017 km)
Combat range: 400 nmi (460 mi, 740 km) air-air mission
Ferry range: 1,800 nmi (2,100 mi, 3,300 km)
Service ceiling: 50,000 ft (15,000 m)
Rate of climb: 50,000 ft/min (250 m/s)
Wing loading: 93 lb/sq ft (450 kg/m2)
Thrust/weight: 0.96 (1.13 with loaded weight at 50% internal fuel)
Guns: 1× 20 mm (0.787 in) M61A1 Vulcan nose mounted 6-barrel rotary 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 (6,200 kg) external fuel and ordnance, with provisions to carry combinations of:
Rockets: *** 2.75 in (70 mm) Hydra 70 rockets
5 in (127.0 mm) Zuni rockets
Missiles: *** Air-to-air missiles:
2× AIM-9 Sidewinder on wingtips and
8× AIM-9 Sidewinder (with double-racks) or 4× AIM-132 ASRAAM or 4× IRIS-T (EF-18A/B) or 8× AIM-120 AMRAAM (with double-racks) and
2× AIM-7 Sparrow or 2× AIM-120 AMRAAM
Air-to-surface missiles:
4x AGM-65 Maverick
AGM-84H/K Standoff Land Attack Missile Expanded Response (SLAM-ER)
AGM-88 HARM Anti-radiation missile (ARM)
4x AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW)
AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM)
Taurus Cruise missile
Anti-ship missile:
AGM-84 Harpoon
Bombs: *** B83 nuclear bomb
B61 nuclear bomb[198]
Joint Direct Attack Munition JDAM precision-guided munition (PGMs)
Paveway series of laser-guided bombs
Mk 80 series of unguided bombs
CBU-78 Gator
CBU-87 Combined Effects Munition
CBU-97 Sensor Fuzed Weapon
Mk 20 Rockeye II
Mk 77 Incendiary bomb
Other: *** ADM-141 TALD
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), now being replaced by AN/ASQ-228 ATFLIR or
LITENING targeting pod (USMC, Royal Australian Air Force, Spanish Air Force, and Finnish Air Force only) or
up to 3× 330 US gallons (270 imp gal; 1,200 L) Sargent Fletcher FPU-8/A drop tanks for ferry flight or extended range/loitering time.
Hughes APG-73 radar
ROVER (Remotely Operated Video Enhanced Receiver) antenna for use by U.S. Navy's F/A-18C strike fighter squadrons

The single-seat F/A-18E and two-seat F/A-18F, both officially named Super Hornet.


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