F/A-18F Super Hornet
Initial Operational Capability (IOC):
Also Known As: AF/A-18F and Block II Super Hornet
Origin: United States of America
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Description: The twin-engine, carrier-based, supersonic F/A-18 Hornet was designed in the late 1970s and early 1980s to meet the US Navy requirements for an all-weather fighter and attack aircraft. This aircraft is able to perform an air strike mission deep inside enemy territory providing itself self-defense capability even beyond the visual range. It is also able to perform close air support missions. In its fighter role, the F/A-18 Hornet supplements the proven F-14 Tomcat in fleet air defense missions. The Hornet/Super Hornet multi-role aircraft is in service with the United States Marine Corps (USMC), the US Navy, and the Air Forces of Australia, Canada, Finland, Kuwait, Malaysia, Spain and Switzerland. More than 2,000 F/A-18s from the A, B, C, D, E, F and G models have been produced so far.
The Hornet was deployed in early 1980s replacing the F-4 Phantom II and A-7 Corsair II, and the A-6E Intruder in the 1990s. The F/A-18 demonstrated its capabilities during Operation Desert Storm in 1991, shooting down enemy aircraft and performing precision air strikes during the same mission with unprecedented tactical aircraft levels of reliability, availability and maintainability. The US Navy and the USMC F/A-18s played an important role in the military campaigns over the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq in late 1990s and early 2000s. The Super Hornet introduced in the 2000s is a new generation of this aircraft incorporating the latest stealth and information technologies and are intended to serve until 2040.
The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet has been designed to provide improved air-to-air and air-to-surface capability as well as greater survivability, range and weapons load. The new aircraft will be supplied to the US Navy for the replacement of the F-14 Tomcat and early production F/A-18 Hornet aircraft, while late production F/A-18C/D will be replaced by the F-35B aircraft. The Super Hornet features stealthy airframe and state-of-the-art electronic countermeasures for improved survivability. In addition, the Super Hornet could be able to deliver a wide range of standoff weapons developed and under development increasing its attack capability. The Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS) and the AIM-9X missile will be the key of short range air-to-air engagements bringing the victory to the Super Hornet aircraft.
The F/A-18E/F aircraft features two F414 engines, 2 additional weapon stations, an advanced multi-purpose targeting pod called ATFLIR, the AN/APG-79 AESA radar (the APG-73 for early production models), compatibility with advanced weapons, and the advanced AN/ALQ-214 electronic countermeasures system. The F/A-18F Super Hornet is the carrier-based two seat variant. The F model can be employed for reconnaissance missions through the SHARP pod. In June 2005 the US Navy reported that the F/A-18E/F program including 462 aircraft total cost was $43.9 billion. In early 2010 the program scope increased from 493 to 515 aircraft at $48 billion. As of September 2010, the program's scope was for 533 aircraft through 2015. As of early 2014s, the Super Hornet program is aimed at approximately 600 aircraft by 2016/2017 when production may end.
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