What Makes The F/A-18 Super Hornet Such A Lethal Combat Aircraft

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The US Navy’s F/A-18 Super Hornets are some of the most capable combat aircraft in the world, holding their own against the likes of the F-35.

The Boeing F/A-18 Hornet was one of the most capable military aircraft in the world when it entered service in 1983. However, the Hornet got even better with the introduction of the F/A-18 Super Hornet, which entered US service in 1999. The Super Hornet is based on the original Hornet, but takes it to the next level thanks to the F/A-18E and F/A-18F versions. The previous C and D versions of the Hornet are what these succeed, with the Super Hornet offering a larger payload and more advanced weapons systems.

While Super Hornet production is set to end in 2025, the Boeing aircraft still plays an important role within the US military. It backs up the more advanced F-35 Lightning II, and of course it was the star aircraft in Top Gun Maverick in 2022.

The F/A-18 Super Hornet Can Carry More Ammunition Than The Hornet

via US Navy

While the Super Hornet comes from the legacy Hornet, the aircraft is almost entirely new. The Super Hornet is 20% larger than its predecessor and weighs 7,000 lbs heavier when both aircraft are empty. The Super Hornet also carries 33% more fuel than the previous Hornet offering a 41% increase on mission range and 50% extra endurance as well. It is in the payload that the Super Hornet can carry more than the legacy Hornet. The Super Hornet can carry a maximum of 17,750 lbs of external ordnance.

Meanwhile, the legacy Hornet has a maximum payload of 14,000 lbs of ordnance, meaning there is a near 4,000 lbs increase for the Super Hornet versions. This extra payload comes in quite handy, making the Super Hornet a more capable aircraft. Especially with the increase in range and mission endurance. Not only that, but during takeoff the Super Hornet can become airborne in nearly 1,000 ft less than the legacy Hornet at a speed of around 20 knots less than the original Hornet. This is exceptional and impressive stuff, for an aircraft that is an evolution of the previous model.

The Super Hornet Has Proven Its Worth Multiple Times

via Flight Global

The Super Hornet has very much proven its worth in combat since its introduction. The first operations that the Super Hornet was directly involved in was during November 2002. This was when two F/A-18Es took part in a Response Operation strike. This was in support of Operation Southern Watch in Iraq. The Super Hornet also saw extensive use throughout the Iraq War, as well as against Islamic State in Iraq. The first air-to-air kill for the Super Hornet was against a Syrian Air Force Su-22 in June 2017.

The Super Hornet has also seen use with the US Navy aerobatic team, the Blue Angels. These replaced the earlier legacy Hornet models that the team flew from the 1980s and right up until 2020. Other air arms have used the Super Hornet as well, such as the Royal Australian Air Force which has also used the aircraft in operations over Iraq. As far as the US Navy’s concerned, the Super Hornet has been a huge success. Meeting its cost and schedule as well as being some 400 lbs lighter than the requirements initially set out for it.

Why Boeing Will End Super Hornet Production In 2025

via 19FortyFive

While it has been almost all good so far for the Super Hornet, those good times must come to an end at some point. It was recently announced by Boeing that the Super Hornet’s production run would come to an end in 2025. Although this could remain open until 2027, should the Indian Navy purchase the Super Hornet for its aircraft carriers. Boeing is putting more recourses into projects such as the F-15EX, the T-7A and the MQ-25. Plus, with the numbers of F-35s in their various forms entering service increasing, there is no longer a need for new versions of the aircraft.

However, while production will end, it’s likely the aircraft will remain in service for some time. There is always a need for more conventional aircraft like the Hornet, over the more complex, fifth-generation stealth aircraft like the F-35. So it’s likely the Super Hornet will be in US service for many more years.

The F/A-18 Super Hornet Is A US Navy Icon

via Naval Air Systems Command

The Super Hornet has become an icon in the US Navy. It’s easily one of the most potent and capable aircraft in the armed force’s armory, even against the F-35 Lightning II. It’s a clear evolution over the previous legacy Hornet which in itself is one of the most potent aircraft that the US Navy has ever operated. It’s natural that with more advanced aircraft coming into service that the Super Hornets production run would come to an end. Buts not before it has carried out many years of great service with the US Navy.

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