McDonnell Douglas F / A-18

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McDonnell Douglas F / A-18 Hornet
McDonnell Douglas FA-18C Hornet of VMFA-212 in flight over the South China Sea on 8 October 2003 (6638451) .jpg
A USMC F / A-18 over the South China Sea in 2003
Type: Multipurpose fighter
Design country:

United StatesUnited States United States


McDonnell Douglas (until 1997)
Boeing IDS (since 1997)

First flight:

November 18, 1978


January 7, 1983

Production time:

1980 to 2000

Number of pieces:


The F / A-18 Hornet is a twin-engine, multi -role fighter aircraft produced by the US manufacturer McDonnell Douglas (part of Boeing since 1997 ). The first flight took place in November 1978, the commissioning followed in January 1983.

The F / A-18E / F Super Hornet represents a comprehensive further development , which is around 30% larger than the original Hornet and has a highly modernized avionics . The first flight of this variant took place in November 1995. In 2001 the Super Hornet was put into service.

The F / A-18 was primarily designed for use on the Nimitz-class aircraft carriers of the United States Navy . Due to its flexibility in combating ground, sea and air targets at long range, it is the most important offensive and defensive component of a US aircraft carrier combat group. Over time, several other states acquired the Hornet (see user ), these use the machine only from airfields on land.

History and Development

The lightweight fighter program

The roots of the F / A-18 lie in a study begun by Northrop in 1966 for a successor to the Northrop F-5 . The goal of the study, led by Lee Begin JR , was a light, agile, and fast air superiority fighter , with two different teams working on a single-engine and twin-engine aircraft (the prototypes were named P-610 and P-600, respectively). A first mock-up was presented at the Paris Air Show in 1971 and was named Cobra .

In 1972, Northrop finally planned to build the first prototypes, but this was associated with high costs. Although the budget of the United States Air Force at that time was clearly focused on the development and introduction of the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle , the Lightweight Fighter Program was initiated, which can also be explained by massive lobbying work by the so-called fighter mafia . This group of high-ranking officers within the Air Force believed that only light and cheap fighters should be purchased in large numbers. It was already foreseeable that the F-15 would be very expensive and that this would inevitably have resulted in a reduction in the squadron sizes . Even the allies of the United States, who were waiting for a successor to the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter , would have been overwhelmed by the high acquisition costs. Hence, Northrop essentially marketed the Cobra as a cheap export machine that was by no means intended to compete with the F-15.

Although the subsequent tender was expressly for demonstration purposes only, many important aircraft manufacturers, for example Boeing , Vought with the LTV V-507 Vagabond and General Dynamics , submitted their concepts, as they were hoping for subsequent large orders. Since Northrop was the driving force behind the program, the twin-engine P-600 was a perfect match for the requirements of the US Air Force. On April 13, 1972, this then awarded the orders for two prototypes each to Northrop (designation: YF-17) and General Dynamics (YF-16). Both companies received $ 38 million each for this.

The prototypes YF-16 and YF-17

A YF-16 (foreground) and a YF-17 in formation flight

Although the YF-17 had moved further and further away from the F-5 in the course of development, the influences were still clearly visible. New features were the V-tail , the generally much larger airframe , significantly more powerful engines and the newly developed leading edge extensions (see strakes ). The airframe consists essentially of aluminum alloys and some CFRP components, whereby it was very similar to the concept of the P-600 prototype. The YF-17 was powered by two General Electric YJ101-GE-100 turbofan engines, which could generate a thrust of up to 64 kN each with afterburners . The avionics were reduced to the bare essentials and comprised only a very simple radar , a radio and an IFF system.

On January 13, 1975, the Air Force announced the winner of the competition: General Dynamics' YF-16. It then became the F-16 Fighting Falcon , which later became an indispensable pillar of the Air Force and was very successful on the export market.

From the YF-17 to the F-18

Front view of the YF-17
Differences between the YF-17 and F / A-18A

Although the YF-17 lost in the Air Force competition, the project has not yet been abandoned. At the same time, the US Navy also needed a new aircraft that could complement the F-14 Tomcat and replace the outdated A-7 Corsair II and F-4 Phantom II aircraft. Although the Navy wanted to procure a machine adapted to its needs, the US Congress forced it to select it from the LWF program for cost reasons. The decision was made on May 2, 1975, despite noticeable displeasure about the procurement process, for the YF-17, as it saw greater air-to-ground potential and a twin-engine aircraft was preferred for reasons of flight safety.

Since Northrop had no experience with carrier aircraft, the company now cooperated with McDonnell Douglas (MDD) to build the new machine, known as the "F-18". MDD was primarily responsible for the carrier-supported variant, while the development of the planned land variant F-18L was led by Northrop. Over time, this led to MDD leading the entire program, as the F-18L was later discarded due to a lack of demand. General Dynamics acted in a similar way together with LTV Aerospace , which developed the YF-16 to the F-16N under the Vought Model 1600 series in order to adapt it to the needs of the Navy. In contrast to the US Air Force, the Navy decided on the F / A-18.

The US Navy ordered a total of eleven pre-production machines (nine single-seaters and two two-seaters), as one variant for aerial combat (F-18) and one for air-to-ground attacks (A-18) was planned, which required an additional crew member. Compared to the YF-17 designed for the Air Force, the F-18 now had to be adapted to the requirements of the Navy. Above all, this required a more resilient airframe and a reinforced landing gear so that the machine could withstand the increased stresses of a carrier landing. Additional features such as foldable wings (saving space in the narrow aircraft carrier hangar) and catch hooks also had to be integrated. Increased reliability and simplified maintenance were also required, since maintenance work on aircraft carriers is a considerably more critical part of the deployment process than on land. These requirements led to a significant increase in weight and size, which is why General Electrics was commissioned in November 1975 to modernize the YJ101 engine and thus develop the new F404 engine. Furthermore, MDD should redesign the cockpit, as a lot of attention was paid to the workload of the pilot.

Testing and introduction

Three-sided view of the F-18A

The first prototype, now known as the Hornet , took off on November 18, 1978 with the MDD chief test pilot Jack Krings . The last prototype was delivered in March 1980, with the test program lasting until October 1982. One of the two-seater planes crashed over Great Britain on September 8, 1980 . The pilots were supposed to transfer the machine from the Farnborough International Airshow to Spain , with a serious engine failure that forced the pilots to exit with the ejector seat .

Even during the flight tests and the final development phase, the numerous critics of the F-18 did not fall silent. The massive inflation of the 1970s led to steadily rising costs and the resilience of some components left a lot to be desired. At the same time, the specifications of the Navy ensured an increase in weight, which noticeably reduced the flight performance despite the improved engines (the range was about 8% below the specifications).

The program continued despite all the criticism and problems, mainly due to the lack of alternatives, and in May 1980 the first series models of the single-seater variant were delivered. At the same time the names were changed again. The two-seater version was renamed from TF-18A to F / A-18B and the single-seater was now called F / A-18A. The "F / A" stands for " fighter / attack " (German: "Hunter / Ground attack") and should clarify the versatility of the machine.

The first unit to receive the new F / A-18 was the United States Marine Corps' VMFA-314 "Black Knights" . The unit was declared fully operational on January 7, 1983.


An FA-18C Hornet armed with ten AIM-120 AMRAAM and two AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, 2019
An F / A-18 was built here by a SA-7 - air missile directly hit on the left engine nozzle, where they however remained airworthy, 1991

The first deployment for the Hornet took place in April 1986 as part of Operation El Dorado Canyon . During the attack on the Libyan city ​​of Benghazi , she flew SEAD missions to hold down enemy air defense positions.

Two machines were destroyed during the Second Gulf War: An F / A-18 was shot down by a MiG-25PD on the first day of the war (January 17, 1991) . The pilot was Scott Speicher ; his remains were not found until 2009. The second machine was shot down over the northern Persian Gulf with pilot Robert Dwyer on board after successfully completing its mission.

During the war, Hornets scored two aerial victories ; both times against a MiG-21 . It was also demonstrated for the first time that a modern combat aircraft first shoots down an enemy machine and then attacks the planned ground targets. Throughout the conflict, the F / A-18 flew 4551 missions; ten machines were damaged and two shot down.

Subsequently, the Hornet was involved in virtually every major military operation in the United States; including Operation Southern Watch , the Kosovo War , Operation Enduring Freedom and the Iraq War . They took on a wide range of tasks such as maintaining air superiority, aerial reconnaissance , surveillance and air-to-ground attacks.

On December 8, 2008, a United States Marine Corps F / A-18 crashed while approaching Miramar Air Force Base in a residential area of ​​the city of San Diego . The pilot was able to save himself with the ejection seat; four people died on the ground. According to the pilot, one of the two engines already failed over the Pacific Ocean , and the other failed during the landing approach.

The United States Navy ( Blue Angels ) aerobatic team has been using a total of twelve F / A-18 aircraft in its flight demonstrations since 1986 .

The downing of a Syrian Su-22 over Syria on June 18, 2017 was the first time an F / A-18 "Super-Hornet" was shot down in a military conflict. After an AIM-9X missed the target due to interfering measures, an AIM-120 medium-range missile was used , albeit at a short range.

The VFA-106 squadron made the last official flight of a US Navy F / A-18C at Naval Air Station Oceana in early October 2019 . The "Blue Angels" will fly the first generation of the Hornet until 2021, and it will continue to fly until 2030 with the US Navy Reserve and the US Marine Corps. The last embarkation of a Marine Corps squadron was in 2020 by the VMFA-323 on the USS Nimitz .

Construction and technology


The vortices generated over the strakes can be clearly seen here, 2005

One of the most striking design features of the F / A-18 are its strakes , also known as leading edge extensions . Here, the wings at the roots are strongly pulled forward and swept, creating strong eddies on the upper side of the strakes. This enables particularly high angles of attack (over 50 °), which has advantages in close-range combat .

The tail unit is relatively large compared to similar machines. This is necessary in order to still be able to effectively control the machine during a carrier landing , which takes place at very low speeds. In general, the entire machine is easy to handle and very resistant to spin , stalls and Flame outs , this being at the expense of the roll rate is.

The structure and larger parts of the surface of the airframe consist mainly of aluminum alloys , with the top of the trapezoidal wings and the surface of the tail unit made of CFRP . Steel is used in the heavily used landing gear and the catch hook , titanium alloys are mainly used in the engine nozzles, with some titanium components also being found on parts of the wing roots and the tail units. Other materials such as boron composite material, tungsten alloys and GRP can be found on the vertical stabilizer and the radome .

In terms of reliability and maintainability, the F / A-18 set new standards when it was launched compared to the F-14 Tomcat and the A-6 Intruder . Its MTBF value (an indicator for the reliability of a technical system) was three times higher, while at the same time it required only half as much time for maintenance, which means that considerably more air-to-air and air-to-ground operations per unit of time were possible. The wings are foldable, which saves a lot of space in the narrow hangars of an aircraft carrier. The Hornet can also be refueled in flight .


An F404 is tested aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln , 2004

The F / A-18 is formed by two 400 F404-GE- - turbofan powered -Triebwerken. They have an afterburner and thus each deliver up to 71.2 kN of thrust . Above all, the F404 is characterized by its reliability and above-average resistance to flame-out (so-called flameouts). Its modular structure and the simplified attachment and connection points ensure quick maintenance.

The air inlets are fixed and therefore do not allow adjustment to the air flow, which is necessary at high speeds. Although this reduces the top speed, it also reduces costs and eliminates a possible source of error.


All aerodynamic control surfaces are regulated by a quadruple redundant and digital fly-by-wire flight control system. This made it possible to design the Hornet to be aerodynamically unstable on the longitudinal axis in order to improve maneuverability.

As airborne radar that comes AN / APG-65 is used, which through diverse modes of operation has to be able to provide a wide range of air, soil and sea combat targets effectively. For electronic countermeasures , a complex of which is the AN / ALR-50 - radar warning device , the AN / ALQ-126B -Störsystem and the AN / ALE-39 - decoy charge. For warning of incoming rockets from behind a correspondingly aligned comes missiles Warner type AN / AAR-38 is used. Communication takes place via a VHF / UHF radio system. A TACAN and INS system is available for navigation .

All avionics components are interconnected via the MIL-STD-1553 data bus.


The cockpit of the F / A-18A (before 2009)

The Hornet cockpit was one of the first to make extensive use of multifunction displays . The three CRT screens enabled the pilot to visualize the situation in a much better and more adapted way, which leads to a lower workload and improved situation awareness . The control stick and the thrust lever are designed in the HOTAS design to improve the usability of the weapon and sensor systems in combat situations. A heads-up display is also available.

As with the F-16 Fighting Falcon , the cockpit canopy is bubble-shaped to give the pilot better all-round visibility. The rear cockpit in the two-seater version (F / A-18B) is only used for training purposes during flight training. From the F / A-18D variant, it was upgraded to the workplace of a weapons system officer who can support the pilot in combat operations.

The pilot wears a type HGU-55 pilot's helmet with an integrated oxygen mask as standard . Special night vision devices can also be attached to it. The ejection seat (type: SJU-5A ) is manufactured by Martin Baker and contains some of the emergency equipment that is required for survival and communication in the event of an exit over enemy territory.


F / A-18A / B

The basic version of the Hornet , where "A" denotes the single-seater and "B" the two-seater version, which can hold 6% less fuel.

F / A-18A +

Denotes machines that have been retrofitted with the new AN / APG-73 on- board radar.

F / A-18C / D

An F / A-18C takes off from the USS Kitty Hawk , 2005
F / A-18C

This variant contains extensive improvements, most of which include the internal systems. All machines now have the new, more powerful AN / APG-73 radar and the ability to use guided weapons of the type AGM-84 Harpoon , AGM-65 Maverick and AIM-120 AMRAAM . The entire avionics were comprehensively modernized, among other things new EloKa systems were installed ( AN / ALR-67 and AN / ALE-47 ). There was also emphasis on improved night combat capabilities, which is why new night vision devices and external FLIR / target light pods were integrated.

A new ejection seat and two color MFDs were installed in the cockpit. The rear cockpit in the D version not only serves as a place for the flight instructor, it can now also accommodate a weapons system officer , who significantly relieves the pilot, especially in air-to-ground attacks. This concept was implemented in parallel for the F-15E Strike Eagle . Externally, only details on the strakes have been changed, but these have also been retrofitted on the A / B machines.

The first flight of this version took place on September 3, 1986, deliveries of the final series configuration began on November 1, 1989. In the following years, further parts were improved. This includes software for comprehensive sensor fusion ("multi-sensor integration", 1991), new engines (F404-GE-402 EPE, 1992), an improved version of the AN / APG-73 (1994), a GPS receiver (1995 ), as well as a new IFF and INS system (1991 and 1997, respectively). In addition, radar absorbing materials (RAM) were applied at critical points in order to improve the stealth properties of the machine. The last machines were delivered in 2000.

F / A-18C +

Due to delays in the arrival of the F-35B at the USMC, some F / A-18Cs stored at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base are reactivated and modified at Naval Air Station Cecil Field so that they have a useful life of 8,000 flight hours, 2000 more than originally. The modifications also include new avionics and a new Raytheon mechanical radar. The first converted copy was delivered in October 2015. In total, the USMC will receive 30 F / A-18C +.

F / A-18E / F Super Hornet

An F / A-18F Super Hornet at the Paris Air Show , 2007

The Super Hornet is a comprehensive further development of the previous Hornet . Unlike most of the upgrades within an aircraft family, the airframe was largely redesigned here. The first prototype took off on November 29, 1995. After the takeover of McDonnell Douglas by Boeing in 1997, these brought the Super Hornet to series maturity and production. The cost of the program through 2013 is $ 50.98 billion; in fiscal 2012, the unit price was $ 93.4 million.

EA-18G growler

Test flight of an EA-18G "Growler", 2009

The EA-18G Growler is an EloKa variant of the two-seat F / A-18F Super Hornet , which replaces the EA-6B Prowler in the US Navy . The primary difference to the basic version is the adaptation of the EloKa systems AN / ALQ-99 and AN / ALQ-218 manufactured by Northrop Grumman . Series production of the EA-18G began in 2007, and since 2009 it has been in active service with the US Navy, which plans to purchase a total of 114 Growlers . The machines were first deployed over Libya as part of Operation Odyssey Dawn .

Other variants

F-18 HARV - (High Alpha Research Vehicle)
The F-18 HARV (phase three), 1995
An experimental model from NASA for aerodynamic research into high angles of attack . For this purpose, an F / A-18 pre-production model was procured from the Navy, but when it arrived in September 1984 it was found that over 400 parts were missing and there was almost no documentation on the machine's wiring. The technicians at the Dryden Flight Research Center therefore had to take a detour to organize parts for the aircraft and then install them themselves. Then the project could begin, which was divided into three development phases. In phase one, which ran from 1987 to 1989, the fly-by-wire software was extensively rewritten, which enabled angles of attack of up to 55 °. No changes were made externally, but a variety of measurements were made, especially on the strakes. The second phase ran until the end of 1995, with a thrust vector control and further modified software being used. This enabled angles of attack of up to around 70 °, with the thrust vector control weighing around 1,050 kg. In phase three, which ended in September 1996, movable strakes were tested on the nose of the aircraft. This enabled better control at high angles of attack. The program ended after phase three, with a total of 385 flights being completed.
NASA uses one and two-seat models of the F-18 as a training aircraft for all NASA pilots, as a camera aircraft to document test flights of experimental aircraft , and for other programs and experiments, such as in the field of airborne astronomy and new systems for the Test space travel .
The X-53, 2003
As part of the Active Aeroelastic Wing program, a Navy F / A-18A was selected as the test vehicle in 1999. The technology of the "active aeroelastic wing" is based on advanced control techniques that enable a wing that can angle its leading and trailing edges by a few degrees without conventional rudders. This is intended to improve overall flight performance and reduce the load on the wing.
The program started back in 1996 and in November 2002 the modified F / A-18 flew for the first time. There were various tests at trans- and supersonic speeds, with more than 75 test flights and various structure tests being carried out on the ground. In the spring of 2005, the project was completed, which cost a total of 45 million US dollars.
F-18 (R)
This was a planned reconnaissance variant of the F / A-18A. In August 1984 two prototypes flew whose on-board cannons were removed and replaced by photo reconnaissance systems. However, the US Navy declined the procurement.
A planned two-seat reconnaissance variant based on the F / A-18D was the RF-18D, which was intended for the US Marines. It was supposed to carry an external container for radar reconnaissance and be procured in the mid-1980s. However, the program was discontinued in 1988.
F / A-18D (RC)
An F / A-18D (RC) with the ATARS system under its nose
After the failure of the RF-18D project, this variant was developed and implemented for the US Marines. Similar to the plan for the F-18 (R), the on-board cannon was removed and replaced by photoelectric sensors . This includes a fixed infrared system and two roll-stabilized optical devices. Analog video cassettes are used as the storage medium .
From 2000, the improved Advanced Tactical Airborne Reconnaissance System (ATARS) was retrofitted on a total of 18 aircraft. It works in the visible and infrared spectral range and is equipped with two digital storage media. In the course of an upgrade program, a connection to the AN / APG-73 was established so that the SAR radar images obtained can also be saved. An external container is attached under the fuselage, which enables the data obtained to be passed on immediately via a digital data link.
The first machines were used as part of Operation Allied Force .
F / A-18 of the Blue Angels
The US Navy's Blue Angels aerobatic team operates slightly modified F / A-18A and F / A-18B machines. Compared to the basic model, the cannon was removed, a paraffin tank was installed to generate smoke and the control stick was equipped with an additional spring, which allows better control of the aircraft in inverted flight.


Worldwide users of the F / A-18 Hornet
A Canadian CF-18C. Note the painted cockpit hood on the underside, which is intended to deceive the opponent about the actual flight position of the machine in a dogfight
A Spanish EF-18A, 1999
  • AustraliaAustralia Australia : Royal Australian Air Force : The RAAF operates 55 F / A-18A and 16 F / A-18B, these were produced under license in the country and have since received some upgrades. They are to be replaced by 100 F-35A Lightning II in the future. As the F-35 program was severely delayed and the F-111 no longer met the requirements technologically, the Australian government procured 24 F / A-18F Super Hornets as an interim solution for the F-111. The first five Rhinos , which is their RAAF nickname in Australia, were caught on March 26, 2010, and the last arrived at the end of 2011. The last 12 copies were factory-equipped with the necessary cabling for an earlier planned conversion to the EA-18G Growler standard. In 2013, however, the decision was made to procure 12 new EA-18Gs. These ran in 2017.
  • CanadaCanada Canada : Royal Canadian Air Force : The remaining 77 of the 138 CF-18s (one and two-seater) are to be kept in service until 2025. The CF-18 is a slightly modified version of the F / A-18A / B and was equipped with two extensive packages to increase combat value. As an interim solution, Canada considered the procurement of 18 Super Hornets , since the order for a successor model is dragging on . Due to an economic conflict with the USA, namely between the aircraft manufacturer Boeing and Bombardier over the then Bombardier C-Series, the procurement of the F / A-18F was suspended in October 2017 and the procurement of 25 used F / A-18A / B from Australia was initiated as an alternative .
  • FinlandFinland Finland : Finnish Air Force : Still owns 55 of 57 F / A-18Cs and 7 of 7 F / A-18Ds.
  • KuwaitKuwait Kuwait : Kuwaiti Air Force : Received 39 KAF-18C / D, an export variant of the F / A-18C / D, as part of restructuring measures after the Second Gulf War .
  • MalaysiaMalaysia Malaysia : Royal Malaysian Air Force : TUDM / RMAF has been using eight F / A-18Ds since the mid-1990s; originally, before the 1997 Asian crisis , 16 machines were to be procured. Since 2010 there have been considerations to expand the Hornet fleet after all, with the Super Hornet F / A-18F in focus.
  • SpainSpain Spain : Ejército del Aire (Air Force) : Operates 89 EF-18A / B, which are also export versions of the F / A-18A / B, with some upgraded to the EF-18A + standard.
  • SwitzerlandSwitzerland Switzerland : Swiss Air Force : Still has 25 F / A-18C and 5 F / A-18D (after one loss each on April 7, 1998, October 23, 2013, October 14, 2015 and August 29, 2016) that were shipped without air-to-ground capability. The machines were put into service on January 23, 1997. With the exception of the first single-seater (J-5001) and the first double-seater (J-5231), the aircraft were manufactured and flown in by RUAG Aerospace in Emmen . Upgrade 21 , which included Link 16 and the use of AIM-9X air-to-air missiles, was carried out from 2004 to 2009, followed by Upgrade 25 from 2012 to 2016, including a new radar warning receiver and new displays in the cockpit . They differ from the rest of the F / A-18C / D in that some of their structural components are made of titanium and have a left-hand searchlight in front of the cockpit (like the Canadian F / A-18A / B). Together with the aircraft, 164 AIM-120B AMRAAM guided missiles and 100 AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles were procured. In 2016, 150 guided missiles of the improved AIM-120C-7 AMRAAM were procured for the F / A-18. For the training of rescue workers, Switzerland maintains two non-airworthy replicas of the F / A-18C, the ground operations mobile training system .
  • United StatesUnited States United States
    • United States Navy : Currently still operating (as of end of 2008) 409 F / A-18A-D and 367 F / A-18E / F (515 ordered in total, plus 114 EA-18G)
    • United States Marine Corps : Currently (as of late 2008) has 238 F / A-18A-Ds
    • NASA : Some specimens as test, escort and training aircraft

Deployment locations in Europe

GermanyGermany Germany , Canadian Forces Air Command

  • CFB Baden-Söllingen , June 1985 to January 1993, CF-18 ( 4th Wing with the 409th , 421st and 439th Squadron )

FinlandFinland Finland , Suomen ilmavoimat / Finlands flygvapnet (Air Force)

  • Kuopio Airport , from 1998, F / A-18C / D ( 31st Squadron / Karelia Aviation Command )
  • Rovaniemi Airport , from January 1999, F / A-18C / D ( 11th Squadron / Fliegerkommando Lapland )
  • Tampere-Pirkkala Airport , from 1995, F / A-18C / D ( 21st Squadron / Satakunta Air Command )

SwitzerlandSwitzerland Switzerland , Swiss Air Force / Forces aériennes suisses

SpainSpain Spain , Ejército del Aire (Air Force)

Technical specifications

Parameter F / A-18C / D Hornet data
length 17.07 m
span 11.43 m
height 4.66 m
Wing area 37.16 m²
Wing loading 281-684 kg / m²
Empty mass 10,455 kg
normal takeoff mass 16,850 kg
Max. Takeoff mass 25,401 kg
Max. Fuel capacity 5126 kg (internal)
Top speed > Mach 1.8 (at optimal height)
Service ceiling 15,240 m
Max. Rate of climb 254 m / s
Use radius
  • 537 km 1
  • approx. 900 km (interceptor configuration)
  • 2000 km (without additional tanks)
  • 2845 km (overpass; 3 additional tanks with 1250 l each)
Max. Flight duration 1:45 h 2
Max. Gun load 7711 kg
Engines two General Electric F404-GE-402 turbofans
  • with afterburner: 2 × 79.0 kN
  • without afterburner: 2 × 53.3 kN
Thrust-to-weight ratio 0.64-1.55

1 Hi-Lo-Lo-Hi profile with 4 × GBU-31 + 2 × AIM-9 + 2 × additional tanks, each with 1800 l
2 airspace protection; 280 km away from the carrier; 6 × AIM-120 + 3 additional tanks with 1800 l each

Armament / loading

An F / A-18C with maximum air-to-air armament
AIM-9 Sidewinder are brought to an F / A-18C
Removed F / A-18 on-board cannon with magazine


  • The numbering of the weapon stations can be read from left to right. Numbers 1/9 are stations on the wing tips, numbers 2/3/7/8 are under the wings and stations 4/5/6 are on the fuselage.
  • • means that the named weapon can be attached to this weapon station.
  • •• means that two copies of the named weapon can be attached to this weapon station.
  • Many F / A-18A / B in service have now been modernized, which is why they can often use newer weapons than those listed below.
  • The following weapons can also be used: almost all cluster bombs of the CBU series, nuclear weapons of the type B43 , B57 , B61 and B83 , CRV7 / Zuni missiles and AGM-62 Walleye air-to-ground guided missiles.
  • All F / A-18s have an internal M61 Vulcan cannon with 578 rounds of ammunition.
F / A-18A / B Hornet F / A-18C / D Hornet
Weapon station → 1 2 3 4th 5 6th 7th 8th 9 1 2 3 4th 5 6th 7th 8th 9
AIM-9 Sidewinder •• •• •• •• •• •• •• ••
AIM-7 Sparrow
AIM-120 AMRAAM •• •• •• ••
AGM-65 Maverick
AGM-84 Harpoon
Mark 82 bomb / 83 •• •• •• •• •• •• •• ••
Mark 84
GBU-10/12/16 •• •• •• ••
GBU-31/32/38 JDAM
Dump tank

EloKa systems

The following table lists all known and compatible EloKa systems for the F / A-18.

designation Accommodation Remarks
Radar warning systems
AN / ALR-50 internally for F / A-18A / B
AN / ALR-67 internally for F / A-18C / D
Missile warning systems
AN / AAR-38 internally
AN / AAR-57 internally
Decoys launcher
AN / ALE-39 internally
AN / ALE-40 internally
AN / ALE-47 internally for F / A-18C-D
Disruptive systems
AN / ALQ-126B internally
AN / ALQ-184 external
AN / ALQ-162 internally
AN / ALQ-167 external

Web links

Commons : F / A-18 Hornet  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ( Memento of July 14, 2011 in the Internet Archive ), accessed June 16, 2019
  2. ^ "Rubble, despair all that remain: Man returns to site where jet crash killed his family." Sign on San Diego , December 10, 2008
  3. a b Blue Angels: Frequently Asked Questions  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Dead Link /   , accessed October 23, 2009
  4. Dave Majumdar: Why the US Military Doesn't Always Dominate. (No longer available online.) In: Archived from the original on June 26, 2017 ; accessed on June 16, 2019 .
  5. Ryan Browne: New details on US shoot down of Syrian jet. In: June 22, 2017, accessed June 26, 2017 .
  6. Alex Lockie: How a US F / A-18 shot down the first manned enemy plane since 1999. In: June 22, 2017, accessed June 26, 2017 .
  7. Jim Winchester: Syrian shoot-down marks first 'kill' for Super Hornet. In: June 19, 2017, accessed June 26, 2017 .
  8. US Navy F / A-18C Hornet makes final flight. Flightglobal, October 4, 2019
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This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on October 17, 2008 .