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The F/A-18 Super Hornet: Top Gun Maverick’s Multirole Fighter Jet

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The Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet replaces the Grumman F-14 Tomcat as the primary multirole fighter jet in the American action drama.

Top Gun: Maverick proved to the world that Tom Cruise still has the star power and remains a leading Hollywood man. Just recently, it was announced that the latest Top Gun movie made 1 billion at the worldwide box office and became “the first $1 billion-grossing movie of Tom Cruise’s storied career,” according to Complex. While Cruise’s appeal is undeniable, many moviegoers went to see the Blockbuster for the cars, fighter jets, sailing boats and the amazing motorcycle featured along the pilots. Who could forget Penny’s 1973 Porsche 911 S or the Kawasaki Ninja H2 motorcycle that Pete “Maverick” Mitchell rides into the sunset?

Despite mind-blowing big boys’ toys, the coolest things in the Top Gun: Maverick movie remain the fighter jets. This time, the elite pilots are introduced to the F/A-18 Super Hornet, which replaced the two-seater Grumman F-14 Tomcat. It is worth noting that during its heyday, the Grumman F-14 Tomcat was widely seen as the most advanced fighter jet with 2.3 Mach top speed during the Cold War period.

Featuring The Super Hornets In The Top Gun Movie Was A Smart Marketing Move

Top Gun fans were quick to point out that “at least three single-seat F/A-18Es” appear in the movie. According to moviegoers, Maverick, Rooster and Hangman piloted the three fighter jets. Without a doubt, Boeing’s F/A-18 is the star of this super production. We forecast many countries will consider this fighter jet for their military fleet after seeing the movie. At the same time, the U.S. Air Force will probably register another recruitment boost thanks to Tom Cruise’s performance and how well he portrayed the experience and thrill of flying the F/A-18 Super Hornet.

Top Gun: Maverick may be fiction, but it may also provide the Super Hornet with a real marketing boost,” says Defense One. “These two-seat F/A-18Fs, rented out by a U.S. Navy hoping for a repeat of the original movie’s recruiting boom, allowed filmmakers to up the sequel’s realism.”

Evidently, everyone wins from featuring the F/A-18 Super Hornet in Top Gun: Maverick. On the one hand, Boeing might get some international contracts to build Super Hornets and on the other hand, the U.S. Air Force could win over new recruits.

The F/A-18 Super Hornet

According to military.com, “The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is the U.S. Navy’s primary strike and air superiority aircraft.” The Super Hornet has a wingspan of 44ft 8.5in, a length of 60ft 3.5in and a height of 16 ft. Meanwhile, the wing area is 500ft2 and the empty weight of the Super Hornet is a staggering 30,500 lb. More importantly, the Super Hornet is powered by two General Electric F414-GE-400 series turbofans. This offers up to 13,000 lbf thrust each engine on dry and 22,000 lbf thrust each engine with an afterburner engaged. Meanwhile, the maximum weapon load of 17,750 lb and the maximum take-off weight is 66,000 lb.

As for the maximum speed reached, the Super Hornet can accelerate to 1,190 mph. And the fighter jet has a climb rate of 45,000 ft per minute and a combat radius of 760 miles.

The first combat action of this emblematic multirole fighter aircraft took place on November 6, 2002, in Iraq, although the first Super Hornets entered fleet service with the United States Navy already in 1999. In 2006, the F-14 was retired from the Navy; thus, all the Navy’s combat jets have been Hornet variants until the single-seat, single-engine Lockheed Martin F-35C Lightning II entered service.

How Much Does It Cost To Fly The F/A-18 Super Hornet

In case, you belong to the ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWI) class like Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates or Elon Musk and you have eccentric hobbies, you can rent the F/A-18 Super Hornet from the Navy for a short ride. Bloomberg reports that the U.S. Navy lent Tom Cruise the aircraft for filming the Top Gun: Maverick movie, but the studio had to pay nothing less than $11,374 an hour for this adventure. Despite the staggering price, Cruise was not allowed to touch the controls, according to Bloomberg. Considering that the movie cashed in more than $1 billion at the worldwide box office, it is safe to say that the studio’s investment paid off.

In the United States, civilians can acquire fighter jets, but they need to be demilitarized. This means that all guns and weapons will be removed before the aircraft is sold to a civilian. As for countries who consider buying the F/A-18 Super Hornet for their national fleet, the price of US$67.4 million (2021) per unit might be a big turnoff.

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