F/A-18E/F Super Hornet

F/A-18E/F Super Hornet

Infobox Aircraft
name= F/A-18E/F Super Hornet

caption= A U.S. Navy F/A-18E a few feet above the deck of USS Abraham Lincoln in 2002.
type= Multirole fighter, strike fighter
manufacturer= McDonnell Douglas Boeing Integrated Defense Systems
national origin= United States
first flight= 29 November 1995
introduction= 1999
number built= >350 as of 2008
primary user= United States Navy
more users=
produced= 1995-present
unit cost= US$55.2 million (2008) [http://www.finance.hq.navy.mil/fmb/08pres/proc/APN_ba1-4_Book.pdf "Department Of The Navy Fiscal Year (FY) 2008/2009 Budget Estimates"] , United States Navy. February 2007. (p. 23)]
developed from = F/A-18 Hornet
variants with their own articles = EA-18G Growler

The Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is a supersonic carrier-capable fighter/attack aircraft. It is a larger and more advanced derivative of the F/A-18C/D Hornet. The Super Hornet entered service with the United States Navy in 1999, replacing the F-14 Tomcat since 2006 and will serve alongside the original Hornet. In 2007, the Royal Australian Air Force ordered Super Hornets to replace its aging F-111 fleet.



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, longer fuselage to carry more fuel and more powerful engines.Jenkins, Dennis R. "F/A-18 Hornet: A Navy Success Story". New York: McGraw-Hill, 2000. ISBN 0-07-134696-1.]

U.S 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. The Gulf War revealed that the US Navy's strike capability lagged behind that of the U.S. Air Force in certain respects.

With no clean-sheet program likely to produce results before about 2020, 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, [http://www.boeing.com/defense-space/military/fa18ef/fa18efmilestones.htm F/A-18E/F Super Hornet program mile stones] ] 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.

Turning to the Super Hornet

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. [ Young, J., Anderson, R., Yurkovich, R., AIAA-98-4701, "A Description of the F/A-18E/F Design and Design Process", 7th AIAA/USAF/NASA/ISSMO Symposium on Multidisciplinary Analysis and Optimization, St. Louis, Missouri, 2-4 September 1998. (F/A-18E intended to replace A-6 and F-14D)] 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 F/A-18E/F retained most of the avionics systems from the F/A-18C/D's then current configuration.

The Super Hornet first flew on November 29, 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 [ [http://www.boeing.com/defense-space/military/fa18ef/news/mdc/97-78.html F/A-18E/F Super Hornet Approved For Low-Rate Production] ] with full production beginning in September 1997. [ [http://www.boeing.com/defense-space/military/fa18ef/news/1997/news_release_970922n.html F/A-18E/F Super Hornet Enters Production] ] 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, [ [http://armed-services.senate.gov/statemnt/2000/000322pc.pdf Operational and Test Evaluation of F/A-18E/F and F-22 review to Senate Armed Services Committee] , March 22, 2000.] and was approved in February 2000. [ [http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/transcript.aspx?transcriptid=1013 DoD Special Briefing on "Super Hornet" Operation Evaluation Results] ]

Initial Operational Capability (IOC) was achieved in September 2001 with VFA-115 at NAS Lemoore, Calif. The Navy considers acquisition of the Super Hornet a success with it meeting cost, schedule and weight (400 lb, 181 kg below) requirements. [http://www.navy.mil/navydata/fact_display.asp?cid=1100&tid=1200&ct=1 F/A-18 US Navy fact file] ]

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 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. [cite web| url = http://www.ndia.org/Content/ContentGroups/Divisions1/International/4202_Wallace.ppt| title = The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet: Tomorrow's Air Power Today| accessdate = 2008-07-04| date =| format =PPT | work = | publisher = National Defense Industrial Association]

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. [cite web |url=http://www.navytimes.com/news/2007/05/navy_boeing_superhornet_070517/ |title=Navy, Boeing downplay alleged F/A-18 problems |first=Christopher P. |last=Cavas |publisher=Navy Times |date=2007-05-18]

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. [cite web |url=http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story.jsp?id=news/6THG013008.xml&headline=Boeing%20Plans%20Sixth%20Generation%20Fighter%20With%20Block%203%20Super%20Hornet&channel=defense |title=Boeing Plans Sixth Generation Fighter With Block 3 Super Hornet |first=David A. |last=Fulghum |publisher=Aviation Week |date=2008-01-30 |accessdate=2008-02-17]


The Super Hornet is about 20% larger, 7,000 lb (3,000 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,Kopp, C. [http://www.ausairpower.net/SuperBug.html "Flying the F/A-18F Super Hornet"] , AusAirPower.net, 2001.] 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.

Airframe changes

The forward fuselage is unchanged but the remainder of the aircraft shares little with earlier F/A-18C/D models. Boeing stretched the fuselage by 34 inches to make room for fuel and future avionics upgrades and increased the wing area by 25%.Donald, David. "Warplanes of the Fleet". AIRtime Publishing Inc, 2004. ISBN 1-880588-81-1.] However, the Super Hornet has 42% fewer structural parts than the original Hornet design. [ [http://www.naval-technology.com/projects/fa18/ F/A-18E/F Super Hornet - maritime strike attack aircraft] ] The General Electric F414, developed from the Hornet's F404, has 35% more power. 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 (4,000 kg). [ [http://www.navyleague.org/sea_power/june_02_07.php Ready On Arrival: Super Hornet Joins The Fleet] , Navy League, June 2002.]

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. [http://www.boeing.com/defense-space/military/fa18ef/index.htm F/A-18E/F Super Hornet page] , Boeing]

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. [Gaddis, BD. [http://www.dtic.mil/ndia/2007psa_apr/gaddis.pdf F/A-18 & EF-18G Program brief] , US Navy, 24 April, 2007.] 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. [ [http://www.navy.mil/navydata/aircraft/fa18/shornet.html F/A-18-E/F Super Hornet .... Leading Naval Aviation into the 21st Century] , US Navy, Accessed December 13, 2007.]

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 join 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 scatter traveling waves away from the aircraft.

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. [ [http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/ac/f-18.htm F/A-18 page] , FAS.org] The Super Hornet has a quadruplex digital fly-by-wire system, [Winchester, Jim. "The Encyclopedia of Modern Aircraft", p. 166. Thunder Bay Press, 2006. ISBN 1592236286.] 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 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. Defensive systems are coordinated through the Integrated Defensive Countermeasures system (IDECM). The IDECM system includes the ALE-47 countermeasures dispenser, the ALE-50 towed decoy, the AN/ALR-67(V)3 radar warning receiver, the ALQ-165 Airborne Self-Protect Jammer (ASPJ), and AN/AAR-47, an Infra-Red and Ultra-Violet Missile Approach Warning System (MAWS). Aircrew have the ability to use night vision goggles (NVG) for Super Hornet operations which means the aircraft interior and exterior lighting are NVG compatible.

Tanker role

The Super Hornet, unlike the previous Hornet, can be equipped with an aerial refueling system (ARS) or "buddy store" for the refueling of other aircraft, [http://www.boeing.com/news/releases/1999/news_release_990414o.htm "Boeing Super Hornet Demonstrates Aerial Refueling Capability"] , Boeing Global Strike Systems, April 14, 1999.] filling the tactical airborne tanker role the Navy had lost with the retirement of the KA-6D tankers. The ARS includes an external 330 US gallon (1,200 L) tank with hose reel on the centerline along with four external 480 US gallon (1800 L) tanks and internal tanks for a total of 29,000 pounds (13,000 kg) of fuel on the aircraft.


Beginning in 2005, new build aircraft received the APG-79 AESA radar. Earlier production aircraft will have their APG-73 replaced with the APG-79. [ [http://www.boeing.com/news/frontiers/archive/2005/june/i_ids8.html Boeing Frontiers: F/A-18E/F Block II upgrades add to Super Hornet's potent arsenal] , Boeing, June 2005.] As of January 2008, 135 earlier production aircraft are to receive AESA radar retrofits. [ [http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/micro_stories.pl?ACCT=149999&TICK=RTN&STORY=/www/story/01-23-2008/0004741140&EDATE=Jan+23,+2008 "Raytheon to Provide Revolutionary AESA Capabilities to 135 F/A-18s"] , Raytheon, January 23, 2008.] VFA-213 "Black Lions" and VFA-106 "Gladiators" based at Oceana Naval Air Station were the first two squadrons to fly the AESA-equipped Super Hornets. [Boeing Press Release January 8, 2007.]

The new APG-79 AESA offers several advantages for the Super Hornet. The new radar enables the aircrew 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. [ [http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/2005/04/new-apg79-aesa-radars-for-super-hornets/index.php New APG-79 AESA Radars for Super Hornets] , Defense Industry Daily, April 26, 2005.] The AESA radar can also detect smaller targets, such as inbound missiles. [cite news |first= |last= |authorlink= |coauthors= |title= New U.S. Navy Radar Detects Cruise Missiles |url= |work= |publisher=Aviation Week and Space Technology|date=2007-04-30 |accessdate=2007-05-02] VFA-213 became "safe for flight" (independently fly and maintain the F/A-18F) on October 27, 2006 and is the first Super Hornet squadron to fly AESA-equipped Super Hornets. [ [http://www.boeing.com/news/releases/2007/q1/070108b_nr.html Boeing F/A-18E/F Block 2 Super Hornets Flying at Naval Air Station Oceana] , Boeing ]

The AN/ALE-55 Fiber-Optic Towed Decoy will replace the ALE-50. [ [http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/aircraft/systems/an-ale-55.htm AN/ALE-55 Fiber Optic Towed Decoy] , Globalsecurity.org] The improved AN/ALQ-214 jammer was added on Super Hornet Block II. [ [http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_generic.jsp?channel=awst&id=news/aw022607p2.xml Navy Details New Super Hornet Capabilities] , Aviation Week and Space Technology, February 25, 2007]

The first Super Hornet upgraded with an aft cockpit Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS) was delivered to VFA-213 on May 18, 2007. VFA-213 is the first squadron to receive the Dual-Cockpit Cueing System for both pilot and Weapon systems officer. [ [http://www.defense-aerospace.com/cgi-bin/client/modele.pl?session=dae.26033479.1179869744.1P9yyH8AAAEAABZmbDoAAAAB&manuel_call_cat=3&manuel_call_prod=82407&manuel_call_mod=release&modele=jdc_inter Boeing Dual-Cockpit Cueing System Introduced to U.S. Navy Squadron] ] 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. [ [http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/micro_stories.pl?ACCT=910471&TICK=RTNB10&STORY=/www/story/10-04-2006/0004445180&EDATE=Oct+4,+2006 Raytheon Awarded Navy Contract to Increase SHARP System Capability] , October 4, 2006]

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. [ [http://www.boeing.com/news/releases/2007/q3/070702a_nr.html Boeing Selects Supplier for Super Hornet Block II Infrared Search and Track Capability] , July 2, 2007.]

Missions performed

*Day/night strikes with precision-guided weapons
*Anti-air warfare
*Fighter escort
*Close air support
*Suppression of enemy air defense
*Maritime strike
*Forward Air Control (Airborne) (FAC(A))
*Air-to-Air Refueling
*Leaflet drops with Payload Delivery Unit 5 (PDU-5) containers [ [http://www.navy.mil/view_single.asp?id=22888 U.S.N. photo of PDU-5 leaflet drop] ]

Operational history

United States Navy

The first unit to bring their F/A-18 Super Hornets to combat was VFA-115. On November 6, 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 lb (900 kg) JDAM bombs for the first time from the F/A-18E in wartime.

In support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, 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 jets flew mostly as aerial refuelers and the VFA-41 jets as Forward Air Controller (Airborne) or FAC(A)s.

On April 6, 2005, VFA-154 and VFA-147 dropped two 500-pound laser-guided bombs on enemy insurgent location east of Baghdad. [ [http://www.uscarriers.net/cvn70history.htm USS Carl Vinson CVN-70 History] ]

On September 8, 2006, VFA-211 F/A-18F Super Hornet 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. [ [http://www.news.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=25504 Strikes Continue; ISAF Air Component Commander Visits Big E] ]

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, and alongside "Legacy Hornet" squadrons VFA-131 and VFA-83, they dropped 140 precision guided weapons and performed nearly 70 strafing runs. [ [http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=29568 CVW-7 Sailors Complete an Eight-Month Deployment] ]

As of October 2008, Boeing has delivered 367 Super Hornets to the US Navy. [ [http://www.boeing.com/news/releases/2008/q4/081001b_nr.html Boeing Press Release, St. Louis, MO, October 1, 2008] ]

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. [ [http://www.defence.gov.au/media/DepartmentalTpl.cfm?CurrentId=6619 Super Hornet Acquisition Contract Signed] ] The total cost with training and support over 10 years is A$6 billion (US$4.6 billion). [ [http://www.minister.defence.gov.au/NelsonMinSpeechtpl.cfm?CurrentId=6442 Australia to Acquire 24 F/A-18F Super Hornets] ] 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. RAAF pilots and air combat officers will begin training in the USA in 2009, with No. 1 Squadron and No. 6 Squadron planned to become fully operational with the F/A-18F in 2010.

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 $6 billion on an interim aircraft. [http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2007/s1873007.htm "The 7.30 Report", "Nelson stands by fighter jet decision"] , Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), (Transcript, broadcast March 15, 2007) Access date: April 13, 2007.] Criss has also cited evidence given before the US Senate Armed Services Committee that the F/A-18F is inferior to the MiG-29 and Su-30,Criss, Peter. [http://www.smh.com.au/news/opinion/there-is-nothing-super-about-this-hornet/2007/03/14/1173722557984.html?page=fullpage "There is nothing super about this Hornet"] , "Sydney Morning Herald", March 15, 2007. Access date: May 9, 2007.] 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". [ [http://www.theage.com.au/news/in-depth/the-hornets-nest/2007/07/08/1183833340924.html Richard Baker "The Hornet's nest"] The Age, July 9, 2007]

The initial package offered to the RAAF will include: [ [http://today.reuters.com/news/articleinvesting.aspx?view=CN&storyID=2007-02-06T194314Z_01_N06264251_RTRIDST_0_AIRCRAFT-AUSTRALIA-UPDATE-1.XML&rpc=66&type=qcna Reuters-Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency informs congress of possible foreign military sale February 6, 2007] ] Dead link|date=July 2008
*48 installed engines and six spares
*APG-79 AESA radar in each plane
*Link 16 connectivity with the AN/USQ-140 Multifunctional Informational Distribution System (MIDS)
*LAU-127 guided missile launchers
*AN/PVS-9 night vision goggles
*12 Joint Mission Planning Systems (JMPS)
*AN/ALE-55 fiber optic towed decoys

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. [cite news |first=Tom |last=Allard |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=Axe set to fall on Nelson's fighters |url=http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/axe-to-fall-on-fighter-jets/2007/12/30/1198949675365.html |work= |publisher=The Sydney Morning Herald |date=2007-12-31 |accessdate=2008-07-04 ]

On 17 March 2008, the Government announced that it would proceed with plans to acquire all 24 F/A-18Fs. Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon said that, based on advice from the review team, the Government had concluded that it was necessary to purchase the Super Hornets, though they remained critical of the previous government's air power planning. He said no other suitable aircraft could be produced to meet the 2010 deadline for the retirement of the F-111 set by the former government and it was no longer possible to keep the F-111s in service past this date. [ [http://news.theage.com.au/govt-to-keep-super-hornets/20080317-1zwr.html Govt to keep Super Hornets] The Age, March 3, 2008] The Government has also sought US export approval for EA-18G Growlers and may order up to six of these aircraft if approval is granted. [cite news| url= http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24183656-31477,00.html |title= RAAF likes the sound of the Growler|last=Dodd|first=Mark|date=2008-08-15|publisher=The Australian|accessdate=2008-08-15] The six Growlers are to be part of the order for 24 Super Hornets. [Kelly, Emma. [http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2008/08/22/315036/australia-expands-p-3-upgrade-plays-down-growler-reports.html "Australia expands P-3 upgrade, plays down Growler reports"] , "Flight International", 22 August 2008.]

Potential operators

Boeing offered Malaysia the Super Hornets as part of a buy-back package for its existing Hornets in 2002. However, the Super Hornet procurement was halted after the government decided to purchase the Sukhoi Su-30MKM instead in 2007. [cite news|publisher=Utusan Malaysia |title=Super Hornets, Awacs may feature in RMAF modernisation plans |date=2007-04-16 |accessdate=2008-09-05 |url=http://www.utusan.com.my/utusan/arkib.asp?y=2004&dt=0416&pub=utusan_express&sec=special%5Freport&pg=sr_02.htm&arc=hive]

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. [ Warwick, Graham. [http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_channel.jsp?channel=defense&id=news/FA18082808.xml&headline=Boeing%20Submits%20Danish%20Super%20Hornet%20Proposal "Boeing Submits Danish Super Hornet Proposal"] , "Aviation Week", 28 August 2008.] [ [http://www.boeing.com/defense-space/military/fa18ef/news/2008/q3/080827b_nr.html "Boeing, US Navy Offer Super Hornet for Denmark Fighter Competition"] , Boeing, 27 August 2008.] 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. [Trimble, Stephen. [http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2008/10/06/316814/brazil-names-three-finalists-for-f-x2-contract-rejects-three.html "Brazil names three finalists for F-X2 contract, rejects three others"] , Flight International, 6 October 2008.] [ [http://www.boeing.com/news/releases/2008/q4/081001b_nr.html "Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet a Finalist in Brazil Fighter Aircraft Competition"] , Boeing, October 1, 2008.]

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. [http://www.boeing.com/news/releases/2008/q2/080424b_nr.html "Boeing Delivers Proposal to Equip Indian Air Force with Super Hornet Fighters"] , Boeing, 24 April 2008. Accessed 29 April 2008.] In August 2008, Boeing submitted an industrial participation proposal to India describing partnerships with companies in India. [ [http://www.boeing.com/defense-space/military/fa18ef/news/2008/q3/080804a_nr.html "Boeing Submits Combat Aircraft Industrial-Participation Proposal to Indian Government"] , Boeing, 4 August 2008.]


*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, slated to begin production in 2008, with fleet deployment in 2009. The EA-18G will replace the U.S. Navy's EA-6B Prowler.


* Royal Australian Air Force (24 aircraft on order, none yet delivered);USA
* 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) [ [http://www.navy.mil/view_single.asp?id=53453 The aircrew of an F/A-18F Super Hornet, assigned to the "Fighting Redcocks" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 22, wait to launch from Catapult 3 during night flight operations.] ]
***VFA-27 "Royal Maces" (F/A-18E)
***VFA-41 "Black Aces" (F/A-18F)
***VFA-81 "Sunliners" (Currently Transitioning)
***VFA-102 "Diamondbacks" (F/A-18F)
***VFA-115 "Eagles" (F/A-18E)
***VFA-122 "Flying Eagles" (Fleet Replacement Squadron, operates F/A-18E/F) [ [http://www.lemoore.navy.mil/vfa-122/ CSFWP Link] ]
***VFA-137 "Kestrels" (F/A-18E)
***VFA-147 "Argonauts" (F/A-18E)
***VFA-154 "Black Knights" (F/A-18F)
** Atlantic Fleet
***VFA-11 "Red Rippers" (F/A-18F)
***VFA-31 "Tomcatters" (F/A-18E)
***VFA-32 "Swordsmen" (F/A-18F)
***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" (Currently Transitioning)
***VFA-143 "Pukin' Dogs" (F/A-18E)
***VFA-211 "Fighting Checkmates" (F/A-18F)
***VFA-213 "Black Lions" (F/A-18F)
**Test and Evaluation Squadrons
***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)

Each squadron has a standard unit establishment of 12 aircraft. As of early 2007, F/A-18E transition is still in progress. Some changes in the transition plan are possible, especially when bearing in mind the fact that F-35C Lightning II production might be delayed, and some proposals to add F/A-18E/F orders for US Navy have been floated. [ [http://defensenews.com/story.php?F=2679916&C=airwar "Boeing Offers Additional F/A-18 Sale to U.S. Navy"] , DefenseNews.com, April 16, 2007.] On March 5, 2008, it was reported that the Navy was considering buying 69 additional F/A-18 Super Hornets to bridge a "strike-fighter" gap. [ [http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?i=3407805&c=AME&s=SEA "U.S. Navy Mulls New F/A-18E/F Buy"] , DefenseNews.com, March 5, 2008.]

pecifications (F/A-18E/F)

Aircraft specifications
plane or copter?=plane
jet or prop?=jet

ref=U.S. Navy fact file, Aerospaceweb [ [http://www.aerospaceweb.org/aircraft/fighter/f18ef/ F/A-18E/F Super Hornet page on Aerospaceweb.org] ]

crew= F/A-18E: 1, F/A-18F: 2
length main=60 ft 1¼ in
length alt=18.31 m
span main=44 ft 8½ in
span alt=13.62 m
height main=16 ft
height alt=4.88 m
area main=500 ft²
area alt=46 m²
empty weight main=30,564 lb
empty weight alt=13,864 kg
loaded weight main=47,000 lb
loaded weight alt=21,320 kg) (in fighter configuration
max takeoff weight main=66,000 lb
max takeoff weight alt=29,900 kg
more general= Internal fuel capacity: F/A-18E: 14,400 lb (6,530 kg), F/A-18F: 13,550 lb (6,145 kg)
* External fuel capacity: 5 × 480 gal tanks, totaling 16,380 lb (7,430 kg)
engine (jet)=General Electric F414-GE-400

type of jet=turbofans
number of jets=2
thrust main=14,000 lbf
thrust alt=62 kN
afterburning thrust main=22,000 lbf
afterburning thrust alt=98 kN

max speed main=Mach 1.8+
max speed alt=1,190 mph, 1,900 km/h
max speed more=at 40,000 ft (12,190 m)
ceiling main=50,000+ ft
ceiling alt=15,000+ m
range main=1,275 nmi
range alt=2,346 km
range more=clean plus two AIM-9s
combat radius main=390 nmi
combat radius alt=449 mi, 722 km
combat radius more=for interdiction mission [ [http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/ac/f-18.htm F/A-18E/F Super Hornet page] , FAS.org.]
ferry range main=1,800 nmi
ferry range alt=2,070 mi, 3,330 km
ferry range more=
climb rate main=
climb rate alt=
loading main=92.8 lb/ft²
loading alt=453 kg/m²
more performance=

guns=1× 20 mm (0.787 in) M61A1/A2 Vulcan cannon
hardpoint capacity=17,750 lb (8,050 kg)
hardpoint missiles=
*** 2× AIM-9 Sidewinder on wingtips
*** AIM-120 AMRAAM
*** AIM-7 Sparrow
*** AGM-88 HARM
*** AGM-65 Maverick missiles
hardpoint bombs=
*** AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon
*** Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM)
*** Paveway laser guided bombs
*** Mk 80 series general-purpose bombs
*** Mk-20 Rockeye II and CBU-series cluster bombs

Popular culture

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.

ee also

* Northrop YF-17
* F/A-18 Hornet
* EA-18G Growler
similar aircraft=
* Dassault Rafale
* F-14 Tomcat
* Mikoyan MiG-29M
* Sukhoi Su-33
* Eurofighter Typhoon
* List of fighter aircraft
* List of active United States military aircraft
see also=


External links

* [http://www.news.navy.mil/navydata/fact_display.asp?cid=1100&tid=1200&ct=1 F/A-18 U.S. Navy fact file] , and [http://www.history.navy.mil/planes/fa18.htm F/A-18 Navy history page]
* [http://www.boeing.com/defense-space/military/fa18ef/index.htm F/A-18E/F Super Hornet on Boeing.com]
* [http://www.is.northropgrumman.com/systems/fa18efsuperhornet.html F/A-18E/F Super Hornet on NorthropGrumman.com]
* [http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/aircraft/f-18ef.htm F/A-18E/F Super Hornet page] and [http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/aircraft/f-18-schem.htm F/A-18 Schematics on GlobalSecurity.org]
* [http://www.vectorsite.net/avhorn_2.html F/A-18E/F Super Hornet pages on Vectorsite.net]
* [http://www.ausairpower.net/SuperBug.html F/A-18E/F page on Ausairpower.net]
* [http://www.estripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=39768&archive=true "USS Enterprise aircraft deliver lethal sting of bombs to enemy in Afghanistan"] , Stars and Stripes, October 13, 2006
* [http://www.boeing.com/defense-space/military/fa18ef/news/2007/q1/070108b_nr.html "Boeing F/A-18E/F Block 2 Super Hornets Flying at Naval Air Station Oceana"] , Boeing, January 8, 2007

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