What do you think of the F-18 Hornet

Ad: This forum contains affiliate links to products on Amazon and eBay. More information in Terms and rules

which one? the early models ABCD or the later EF Super hornets?

Perhaps the best F/A-18 was the one they never made, the F-18L


Otherwise it's done a good job as a reasonably priced light attack multirole aircraft with respectable air to air ability for those who need something with a bit more reliability than an F-16 (ie twin engines, probably stronger structure due to having to take carrier landings)

An interesting read on how the RAAF came about selecting the Hornet here

This one made it back after a midair collision, so it must be able to take a fair amount of punishment
The F18 is a fair enough aircraft, but compromises had to be made for it to perform bombing and fighter missions.

Remember the airframe is still a mid to late 70's design and its coming on 30 years of design age.
syscom3 said:
The F18 is a fair enough aircraft, but compromises had to be made for it to perform bombing and fighter missions.

Remember the airframe is still a mid to late 70's design and its coming on 30 years of design age.

I was told by some of my former navy buddies it was a great aircraft to maintain, especially when compared to the F-14
Twitch said:
"F-18 in combat-" I guess the main thing is how can we evaluate a combat aircraft's effectiveness from its endless training excercises that has little or no real world combat immersion?

Well it has seen a bit of combat actually, though nothing major except perhaps the first Gulf war.

The F/A-18 first saw combat action in 1986, when Hornets from the USS Coral Sea (CV-43) flew SEAD missions against Libyan air defenses during the attack on Benghazi.

The F/A-18 demonstrated its versatility and reliability during Operation Desert Storm, shooting down enemy fighters and subsequently bombing enemy targets with the same aircraft on the same mission, and breaking all records for tactical aircraft in availability, reliability, and maintainability. The aircraft's survivability was proven by Hornets taking direct hits from surface-to-air missiles, recovering successfully, being repaired quickly, and flying again the next day. Two F/A-18's were lost in the Gulf War, one for reasons unknown and the second alleged to have been shot down by an Iraqi MiG-25PD. US Navy pilots Lt. Robert Dwayer (Air Wing Pilot VFA-87??) and LCDR M. Scott Speicher (VFA-81) were killed. [1] in the first hours of the air campaign. F/A-18's were credited with two kills, both of MiG-21's, during that conflict.
(summarised from wikipedia)

So 2 kills, 2 losses, MiG-21s aren't much to brag about (then again most F-16 and F-15 kills weren't exactly top grade opponents either). Being shot down by a MiG25 isn't that shocking, they are fast enough to get in and take a shot with both IR and Radar missiles for an effective kill then get out using it's high speed, a rather underrated threat IMHO.

Full known combat record for F/A-18:
Libya - Operation El Dorado Canyon (USN, 1986)
Iraq - Operation Desert Storm (USN, USMC, Canada, 1991)
Iraq - Operation Southern Watch (USN, USMC, 1991-2003)
Bosnia - Operation Deliberate Force (USN, USMC, Canada, Spain, 1995)
Iraq - Operation Desert Fox (USN, 1998)
Kosovo - Operation Allied Force (USN, Canada, Spain, 1999)
Afghanistan - Operation Enduring Freedom (USN, USMC, 2001-present)
Iraq - Operation Iraqi Freedom (USN, USMC, Australia, 2003-present)

Not much aircombat but some mud moving.

It is a very well thought out aircraft design wise, very easy to maintain and repair and cheap to run, it will last 2 or 3 times longer between servicing and the servicing should only take half as long. It was one of the first aircraft to make good use of digital systems so it can be upgraded more easily and cheaply and it's cockpit is supposed to be well thought out with HOTAS and lessons learned from McDonnell Douglas' experience on the F-15, but updated of course, with lots of MFDs. When you consider that it has now basically replaced the A-6, F-4, A-4, F-14 and EA-6 that's quite remarkable, the Navy must have saved a shedload of cash from that sort of commonality alone, of course they are also compromised by trying to squeeze so many tricks out of one design, and for us enthusiasts it's a bit boring to see a carrier with virtually only one type of aircraft on it.

The F404 engine is supposed to be very good, reliable, reasonable consumption to thrust and able to be throttled back and forth without too much worry about the engine health or compressor stalls. Some of it's design features were later even added to the F101 series (F-15/F-16/F-14D) after the US Govt gave the details to P&W (to GEs obvious disgust). Even the JAS-39 Gripen uses the same F404 engine licence built by Volvo.

Known Operators:
Australia (Royal Australian Air Force)
Canada (Canadian Armed Forces, Air Command)
Finland, Suomen Ilmavoimat (Finnish Air Force)
Kuwait, al-Quwwat al-Jawwiya al-Kuwaitiya (Kuwaiti Air Force)
Malaysia, Tentera Udara Diraja Malaysia (Royal Malaysian Air Force)
Spain, Ejército del Aire Española (Spanish Air Force)
Switzerland, Schweizer Luftwaffe (Swiss Air Force)
United States (US Marine Corps)
United States (US Navy)
United States (NASA)
Exactly, the combat immesion of the F-18 is incomplete. I'm unconvinced. besdies I personally like more substantial craft like the F-14 and its systems where the F-18 is a compromise due to size.
The SuperHornet is pretty big, I'd rather be a smaller target than a bigger one ;)

I'd prefer a dedicated interceptor/air superiority aircraft and dedicated attack aircraft though it's probably doubtful whether carriers are actually needed these days with the cruise missiles and unmanned aircraft improving all the time.

Probably cheaper to keep a bunch of long range missiles than to keep a carrier floating around, though it's imposing psychological value is probably worth something.
The Super Hornet has quite a bit, actually. Remember, it is an attack aircraft, not a bomber. Bombers are Air Force missions.

From Boeing's website:
The Super Hornet's versatility applies to its weapon stations and payload types:
* 11 weapon stations
* Supports a full complement of smart weapons, including laser-guided bombs
* Carries a full spectrum mix of air-to-air and air-to-ground ordnance

From the FAS site:
The multi-mission F/A-18E/F "Super Hornet" strike fighter is an upgrade of the combat-proven night strike F/A-18C/D. The Super Hornet will provide the battle group commander with a platform that has range, endurance, and ordnance carriage capabilities comparable to the A-6 which have been retired. The F/A-18E/F aircraft are 4.2 feet longer than earlier Hornets, have a 25% larger wing area, and carry 33% more internal fuel which will effectively increase mission range by 41% and endurance by 50%. The Super Hornet also incorporates two additional weapon stations. This allows for increased payload flexibility by mixing and matching air-to-air and/or air-to-ground ordnance. The aircraft can also carry the complete complement of "smart" weapons, including the newest joint weapons such as JDAM and JSOW.

The Super Hornet can carry approximately 17,750 pounds (8,032 kg) of external load on eleven stations. It has an all-weather air-to-air radar and a control system for accurate delivery of conventional or guided weapons. There are two wing tip stations, four inboard wing stations for fuel tanks or air-to-ground weapons, two nacelle fuselage stations for Sparrows or sensor pods, and one centerline station for fuel or air-to-ground weapons. An internal 20 mm M61A1 Vulcan cannon is mounted in the nose.

Carrier recovery payload is increased to 9,000 pounds, and its engine thrust from 36,000 pounds to 44,000 pounds utilizing two General Electric F414 turbo-fan engines. Although the more recent F/A-18C/D aircraft have incorporated a modicum of low observables technology, the F/A-18E/F was designed from the outset to optimize this and other survivability enhancements.

The Hughes Advanced Targeting Forward-Looking Infra-Red (ATFLIR), the baseline infrared system for the F/A-18 E/F, will also be deployed on earlier model F/A-18s. The Hughes pod features both navigation and infrared targeting systems, incorporating third generation mid-wave infrared (MWIR) staring focal plane technology.

Although 41% interdiction mission range increase may be the most notable F/A-18E/F improvement, the ability to recover aboard with optimal reserve fuel and a load of precision strike weapons, is of equal importance to the battle group commander. The growth potential of the F/A-18E/F is more important to allow flexible employment strategies in future years. If an electronically scanned array antenna or another installation-sensitive sensor or weapon system becomes available, the F/A-18E/F has the space, power and cooling to accommodate it. Although the more recent F/A-18C/D aircraft have incorporated a modicum of low observables technology, the F/A-18E/F was designed from the outset to optimize this and other survivability enhancements. The all-F/A-18C/D/E/F air wing brings an increase in capability to the carrier battle group while ensuring the potential to take advantage of technological advances for years to come.

Features of the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet:

90% Common F/A-18C/D Avionics: Avionics and software have a 90 percent commonality with current F/A-18C/Ds. However, the F/A-18E/F cockpit features a touch-sensitive, upfront control display; a larger, liquid crystal multipurpose color display; and a new engine fuel display.
34 in. Fuselage Extension: The fuselage is slightly longer - the result of a 34-inch extension.
Two Additional Multi-Mission Weapons Stations: Super Hornet has two additional weapons stations, bringing the total to 11. For aircraft carrier operations, about three times more payload can be brought back to the ship.
25% Larger Wing: A full 25 percent bigger than its predecessor, Super Hornet has nearly half as many parts.
35% Higher Thrust Engines: Increased engine power comes from the F414-GE-400, an advanced derivative of the Hornet's current F404 engine family. The F414 produces 35 percent more thrust and improves overall mission performance. Enlarged air inlets provide increased airflow to the engines.
33% Additional Internal Fuel: Structural changes to the airframe increase internal fuel capacity by 3,600 pounds, or about 33 percent. This extends the Hornet's mission radius by up to 40 percent.

Roll-out of the first Super Hornet occurred in September 1995, and it flew for the first time in November 1995, ahead of schedule and nearly 1,000 pounds under specified weight. In January 1997, the Super Hornet successfully conducted its initial sea trials on board the Navy's newest aircraft carrier, USS JOHN C. STENNIS (CVN 74).

The Navy is planning to procure a minimum of 548 Super Hornets, and possibly as many as 1,000. These numbers could vary depending on the progress of the Joint Strike Fighter Program. As part of the Quadrennial Defence Review (QDR) production of the Super Hornet was cut from 1000 to 548 units. Production of the aircraft commenced in FY 1997, and it is expected to attain initial operational capability (IOC) in FY 2001. Twelve aircraft were funded in FY 1997; procurement numbers increase to 20 in FY 1998, 30 in FY 1999, and reach a final maximum rate of 48 per year in FY 2001.

And to replace the EA-6B Prowler, the F/A-18 Growler
F/A-18G "Growler"
The EA-6B will begin retirement in the 2010 timeframe, after a career that exceeded 40 years of deployments in support of USN, USMC, and USAF strike forces. As of early 2000, Defense Department planning for replacing the EA-6B Prowler include a scheme under which the Navy would buy an F/A-18G "Growler" -- an F/A-18E/F modified for escort and close-in jamming. The Air Force would provide standoff jamming with modified EB-52s or EB-1s, and close-in jamming with unmanned air vehicles such as the Northrop Grumman Global Hawk or General Atomics Predator.

Just for the argument - someone sent this to me today, F-18 killing an F-22...


  • f18fgunf22.jpg
    35.3 KB · Views: 521
How many bombs do you need to carry these days, it's not WW2 anymore?

Most bombs these days are guided meaning you dont need to carry loads and carpet bomb, you can hit exactly what you want.

It's at least equal to an F-16, probably equal to an A-6 as well, early model F/A-18s with drop tanks can carry the same amount as an A-7 corsair without drop tanks.
F/A-18 has been doing a good enough job trucking bombs so far in Iraq and Afghanistan, it's clever placement of AIM-7 and now AIM-120s semi conformally and AIM 9 on the wing tips means it can carry credible air to air capability along with a full load of bombs.

Can carry a fair few AIM-120s if needed as well


  • FA1807.JPG
    12.6 KB · Views: 4,934

Users who are viewing this thread