F-18 Hornet

YouTube - F-18 Hornet

E 2003 US$ Cost:
F 2003 US$ Cost:
Primary Function:
E Crew:
F Crew:
Thrust Each:
Fuel, Internal:
Fuel, External:
Max. Weight:
Cruise Speed:
Max. Speed:
Climb Rate:
Combat Range:
Year Deployed:
Year Deployed:
$57 million
$59 million
GE turbofans
2 x 22,000 lbs.
17,498 lbs.
11,885 lbs.
80,207 lbs.
1 - 20 mm
17,750 lbs.
60 ft. 0 in.
44 ft. 8 in.
575 mph
1,190 mph
50,000 fpm
50,000 feet
1,468 miles
2 hrs. 15 min.
2001 (E)
2003 (F)

F-18 Hornet carrier launch

F-18 Hornet

The development history of the F-18 Hornet traces back to May 2, 1975. That is when the U.S. Navy announced the go ahead of a collaboration on aircraft from Northrop and McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing). The aircraft began life when proposed for the U.S. Air Force as the YF-17. When it was decided that it would be developed for use by the U.S. Navy, McDonnell Douglas partnered with Boeing. It was because Boeing had experience with planes operating from aircraft carriers.

Two types of the F-18 Hornet were developed. One for fleet defense against enemy aircraft, and the other for ground attack, primarily in support of U.S.M.C. troops. Eventually it was decided to build a single aircraft that met both roles.

On November 18, 1978, the prototype F-18 Hornet flew for the first time. In March of 1980 the last of eleven prototype aircraft was delivered to the U.S. Navy. In May of 1980, delivery of initial production aircraft began.

With its dual role capacity, the F-18 Hornet was originally intended to supplement current U.S. Navy attack, fleet defense aircraft. The advanced radar systems and avionics allowed its pilots to go from air attack or defense to ground attack mode on the same sortie, with the flip of a switch. During Operation Desert Storm, it became routine for pilots to down opposing aircraft on their way to a target, and then complete their mission against ground targets.

The multi-role F-18 Hornet has flown fighter escort, forward air control, air-defense suppression, reconnaissance, close air support, and strike missions.

F-18 Hornet ground crews praise its reliability and ease of maintenance. A number of aircraft have taken hits from missiles, brought their crews home safely, underwent repairs, and were flying soon afterward..

On January 7, 1983 the US Marines VMFA-314 "Black Knights" became operational.

In 1986 the U.S. Navy aerobatic team began using the airplane in their performances. They continue to fly as a team to this date.

The F-18 Hornet played a major role in the 1986 U.S. strikes against Libya. Flying from the U.S.S. Coral Sea, F-18 Hornet aircraft launched high speed anti-radiation missiles (HARM) against Libyan air defense radars and surface to air missile sites. With those targets destroyed, it was possible to fly against targets in Benghazi.

Through 1987, a total of 371 model A (single seat) and a total of 40 model B (two seat) aircraft were built when production switched to models C and D. On September 3, 1986 the model C had its first flight.

F-18 Hornet C and D models were introduced with upgraded radars, upgraded avionics, a Forward Looking Infrared array (FLIR), full color flight displays, upgraded missile carrying abilities, upgraded ejection seats, and Electronic Counter Measures (ECM) jamming.

In November of 1989, the first F-18 Hornet night fighter aircraft were deployed with the U.S. Marine Corps.  These were model D aircraft equipped with Advanced Tactical Airborne Reconnaissance System (ATARS). It features enhanced data storage capacity and imaging.

Beginning in 1991, F-18 Hornet aircraft have been equipped with F404-GE-402 enhanced performance engines, producing about one fifth more thrust than previous engines.

In May of 1994 the F-18 Hornet received upgraded radar with faster speed and greater memory processors.

In addition to the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps, the F-18 Hornet has been used by the air forces of Australia, Canada, Finland, Kuwait, Malaysia, Spain, and Switzerland.

Canada became the first international customer for the F-18 Hornet, with an initial order of 136 aircraft. An unusual feature of Canadian aircraft was a cockpit painted on the underside of the aircraft, in hopes of momentarily confusing an enemy pilot while engaging in visual combat.

Some 1,070 F-18 Hornet model C (single seat) and D (two seat) aircraft were built.

In 1990 the U. S. Navy began the development of the newest F-18 Hornet as a replacement for aging aircraft. On November 29, 1995 the first prototype of the new aircraft took to the sky. In 1997 the manufacture of production models started. They began their test flights with U.S. Navy Squadron VFA-122 in November of 1999.  On February 15, 2000, the U.S. Navy declared the new models E and F as ready for deployment. On July 24, 2002 the new Super Hornet aircraft became operational with the U.S. Navy.  Export versions were made available in 2005.

Many judge the F-18 Hornet models E (single seat) and F (two seat) to be an essentially new aircraft. They have about four feet more overall length and 1/4 additional wing area than previous models. They have about 1/3 more fuel capacity with overall weight up by approximately 25%. Mission time is estimated as 40% longer, with one and a half times more combat endurance. Two more hard points have been added to the aircraft. There is about 15% more carrier recovery payload, while total engine thrust has increased by about 22%.

The F-18 Hornet models E and F are an extension of the success of their predecessors.  The aircraft have proven themselves in all weather, day and night missions. They have proven themselves as additionally survivable, more maneuverable, faster, and even tougher than their predecessors.

The F-18 Hornet models E and F cockpit is being reworked to include larger displays, incorporate tactical targeting network technology and a distributed targeting processor network. New long-range infrared sighting and tracking (IRST) sensors will detect and track targets from greater distances.  IRST is a passive system, detecting heat from engines and that generated by the air heating the surface of a target passing through the atmosphere.  Targets do not know that they are being tracked.

Radar-absorbing coatings on key airframe parts will help reduce their radar signature. Conformal fuel tanks will increase aircraft range by up to 135 miles or allow for carrying additional ordnance.

Modifications on airframes and components will increase service life by 3,000 hours to a total of 9,000 hours.

By 2024 one squadron per U.S. carrier air wing, and by 2027 two squadrons per U.S.carrier air wing should have these modifications.

In April of 2018 it was announced that the U.S. Navy had placed an order for an additional eleven F-18 model E aircraft.

In June of 2018 it was announced that an agreement was reached that upgrades of F-18 A/B, C/D, E/F and EA-18G Hornet aircraft for the United States Navy and United States allies would be effected by Boeing.  Total cost will be around US$1.5 billion.

In June of 2018 it was announced that Kuwait had contracted with Boeing to purchase 22 F-18 model E and 6 F-18 model F Hornet aircraft for a total of U.S.$1.5 billion with deliveries by January of 2021.

Over 500 aircraft have been produced to date.

F-18 Hornet - Stig Anderson

F-18 Hornet

That's Stig Anderson with his F-18 Hornet from Skymaster Jet.  Its wingspan is 67 in. and length is 90 in.  It needs a jet turbine engine producing from 25 to 35 lbs. of thrust

The Freewing F-18 Hornet has a wingspan of 38 in. and is 55 in. long.  Included is a 3748 - 1850 kV motor turning a 70 mm fan unit, retracts, flaps, nav lights, drop tanks, missiles and nav lights.  Weight is about 6 3/4 lbs.

FMS has an F-18 Hornet with a wingspan of 34 1/2 in. and a length of 46 3/4 in.  It features flaps and retracts with a 2860 - 1850 kV motor turning a 70 mm EDF.  It weighs around 74 oz.