Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet

The Boeing F/A-18E Super Hornet and related twin-seat F/A-18F are twin-engine carrier-capable multirole fighter aircraft variants based on the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet. The F/A-18E single-seat and F/A-18F tandem-seat variants are larger and more advanced derivatives of the F/A-18C and D Hornet. The Super Hornet has an internal 20 mm M61 rotary cannon and can carry air-to-air missiles and air-to-surface weapons. Additional fuel can be carried in up to five external fuel tanks and the aircraft can be configured as an airborne tanker by adding an external air refueling system.

Designed and initially produced by McDonnell Douglas, the Super Hornet first flew in 1995. Full-rate production began in September 1997, after the merger of McDonnell Douglas and Boeing the previous month. The Super Hornet entered service with the United States Navy in 1999, replacing the Grumman F-14 Tomcat, which was retired in 2006; the Super Hornet serves alongside the original Hornet. The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), which has operated the F/A-18A as its main fighter since 1984, ordered the F/A-18F in 2007 to replace its aging F-111 fleet. RAAF Super Hornets entered service in December 2010.

Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet
Class Aircraft
Type Fighter
Manufacturer McDonnell Douglas
Origin United States of America
Country Name Origin Year
United States of America 1995
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Australia 1999 View
United States of America 1999 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
McDonnell Douglas View
Boeing Defense, Space & Security View

The Super Hornet achieved initial operating capability (IOC) in September 2001 with the U.S. Navy's Strike Fighter Squadron 115 (VFA-115) at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California.[14] VFA-115 was also the first unit to take their F/A-18 Super Hornets into combat. On 6 November 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, Iraq and an air defense command and control bunker at Tallil air base. One of the pilots, Lieutenant John Turner, dropped 2,000 lb (910 kg) JDAM bombs from the Super Hornet for the first time during combat.

In support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (Iraq War), 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 Abraham Lincoln. The VFA-14 aircraft flew mostly as aerial refuelers and the VFA-41 fighters as Forward Air Controller (Airborne) or FAC(A)s. On 6 April 2005, VFA-154 and VFA-147 (the latter squadron then still operating F/A-18Cs) dropped two 500-pound (230 kg) laser-guided bombs on an enemy insurgent location east of Baghdad.

On 8 September 2006, VFA-211 F/A-18F Super Hornets 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 had participated in an active combat capacity using the Super Hornet.

During the 2006–2007 cruise with Dwight D. Eisenhower, VFA-103 and VFA-143 supported Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom and operations off the Somali coast. Alongside "Legacy Hornet" squadrons, VFA-131 and VFA-83, they dropped 140 precision guided weapons and performed nearly 70 strafing runs.

In 2007, Boeing proposed additional F/A-18E/Fs to the U.S. Navy in a multi-year contract. As of October 2008, Boeing had delivered 367 Super Hornets to the U.S. Navy. On 6 April 2009, Defense Secretary Gates announced that the Department of Defense intended to acquire 31 F/A-18s in FY2010. Congress requested the DoD study a further multi-year contract so that a projected fighter shortfall could be averted; in 2006, the Navy was 60 fighters below its validated aircraft requirement. The FY2010 budget bill authorized a multiyear purchase agreement for additional Super Hornets. A multi-year contract was finalized on 28 September 2010, reported as saving $600 million over individual yearly contracts, for 66 Super Hornets and 58 Growlers to mitigate a four-year delay in the F-35 program.

On 7 August 2014, U.S. defense officials announced they had authorizated to launch bombing missions upon Islamic State forces in northern Iraq. The decision to take direct action was made to protect U.S. personnel in the city of Irbil and to ensure the safety of transport aircraft making airdrops to Yazidi civilians. Early on 8 August 2014, two Super Hornets took off from the USS George H.W. Bush and dropped 500 lb laser-guided bombs on a "mobile artillery piece" the militants had been using to shell Kurdish forces defending the city. Later that day, four more aircraft struck a seven-vehicle convoy and a mortar position.

Role Carrier-based multirole fighter
National origin United States
Manufacturer McDonnell Douglas
Boeing Defense, Space & Security
First flight 29 November 1995
Introduction 1999
Status In service
Primary users United States Navy
Royal Australian Air Force
Produced 1995–present
Number built 500 as of April 2011
Program cost Total procurement:US$48.09 billion (through FY2011)
Unit cost US$60.9 million (2013 flyaway cost)
Developed from McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet
Variants Boeing EA-18G Growler


General characteristics

  • Crew: F/A-18E: 1, F/A-18F: 2
  • Length: 60 ft 1¼ in (18.31 m)
  • Wingspan: 44 ft 8½ in (13.62 m)
  • Height: 16 ft (4.88 m)
  • Wing area: 500 ft² (46.5 m²)
  • Empty weight: 32,081 lb (14,552 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 47,000 lb (21,320 kg) (in fighter configuration))
  • Max. takeoff weight: 66,000 lb (29,937 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × General Electric F414-GE-400 turbofans
  • Dry thrust: 13,000 lbf (62.3 kN) each
  • Thrust with afterburner: 22,000 lbf (97.9 kN) each
  • Internal fuel capacity: F/A-18E: 14,400 lb (6,780 kg), F/A-18F: 13,550 lb (6,354 kg)
  • External fuel capacity: 5 × 480 gal tanks, totaling 16,380 lb (7,381 kg)

Performance

  • Maximum speed: Mach 1.8 (1,190 mph, 1,915 km/h) at 40,000 ft (12,190 m)
  • Range: 1,275 nmi (2,346 km) clean plus two AIM-9s
  • Combat radius: 390 nmi (449 mi, 722 km) for interdiction mission
  • Ferry range: 1,800 nmi (2,070 mi, 3,330 km)
  • Service ceiling: 50,000+ ft (15,000+ m)
  • Rate of climb: 44,882 ft/min (228 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 94.0 lb/ft² (459 kg/m²)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.93
  • Design load factor: 7.6 g

Armament

  • Guns: 1× 20 mm (0.787 in) M61A2 Vulcan nose-mounted Gatling-style cannon, 578 rounds
  • Hardpoints: 11 total: 2× wingtips, 6× under-wing, and 3× under-fuselage with a capacity of 17,750 lb (8,050 kg) external fuel and ordnance
  • Missiles:
    Air-to-air missiles:
    4× AIM-9 Sidewinder or 4× AIM-120 AMRAAM, and
    2× AIM-7 Sparrow or 2× AIM-120 AMRAAM
  • Air-to-surface missiles:
    AGM-65 Maverick
    AGM-84H/K Standoff Land Attack Missile Expanded Range (SLAM-ER)
    AGM-88 HARM Anti-radiation missile (ARM)
    AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW)
    AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM)
  • Anti-ship missile:
    AGM-84 Harpoon
    Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM), in the future
  • Bombs:
    JDAM precision-guided munition (PGMs)
    Paveway series of laser-guided bombs
    Mk 80 series of unguided iron bombs
    CBU-78 Gator
    CBU-87 Combined Effects Munition
    CBU-97 Sensor Fuzed Weapon
    Mk 20 Rockeye II
  • Others:
    SUU-42A/A Flares/Infrared decoys dispenser pod and chaff pod or
    Electronic countermeasures (ECM) pod or
    AN/ASQ-228 ATFLIR Targeting pods or
    up to 3× 330 U.S. gallon (1,200 L) Sargent Fletcher drop tanks for ferry flight or extended range/loitering time or
    1× 330 U.S. gal (1,200 L) tank and 4× 480 U.S. gal (1,800 L) tanks for aerial refueling system (ARS).
Avionics
  • Hughes APG-73 or Raytheon APG-79 Radar
  • Northrop Grumman/ITT AN/ALE-165 self-protection jammer pod or BAE Systems AN/ALE-214 integrated defensive electronic countermeasures system
  • Raytheon AN/ALE-50 or BAE Systems AN/ALE-55 towed decoy
  • Northrop Grumman AN/ALR-67(V)3 radar warning receiver
  • MIDS LVT or MIDS JTRS datalink transceiver

End notes