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F/A-18 Hornet Fighter Jet

The F/A-18 Hornet is the fighter jet of choice for militaries around the world


A F/A-18 Hornet participates in a mission in support of Rim of the Pacific.
Stocktrek Images/Vetta/Getty Images

For more than 30 years, the F/A-18 Hornet has served as the premier fighter jet for militaries around the world.

Multiple Roles Earn Pilot Praise

Since its first flight in November 1978, the F/A-18 Hornet has proven to be an extremely reliable multirole fighter jet. The aircraft is capable of flying at supersonic speeds, and has weapons that include a M61A1 20 millimeter gun and sidewinder missiles. The aircraft performs several functions, including fighter escort, suppression of enemy air defenses, forward air control, reconnaissance, strike missions, and close air support.

What truly distinguishes the F/A-18 Hornet from other aircraft is the fact that it is highly manoeuvrable and able to change direction quickly while traveling at supersonic speeds. The aircraft has earned the praise of fighter pilots for its multi-function displays that allow the jet to switch from a fighter to attack role with the switch of a button. This enables pilots to respond quickly to changing situations in combat.

Combat Missions

The U.S. military has deployed F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets on several combat missions. The aircraft’s first combat mission was in 1986 against air defences in Libya. Since then, the fighter jets have been deployed during the first Gulf War in 1991, Bosnia and Kosovo in the late 1990s, and they are being used for current missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The F/A-18 Hornet’s profile has been further boosted by the fact that it is the official aerial demonstration aircraft of the Blue Angels squadron. Since 1986, the Blue Angels have used the F/A-18 fighter jets to perform thrilling aerial combat displays at air shows across the U.S. and around the world.

Used by Foreign Militaries

Although developed in the U.S., the F/A-18 is currently the premier fighter jet of several other countries. Australia, Canada, Switzerland, Finland, Spain and Kuwait all operate versions of the F/A-18 fighter jet. The aircraft provides interoperability with the U.S. military and has proven excellent for securing each country’s domestic airspace.

In the 1990s, the U.S. Navy modified the design of the F/A-18 Hornet and developed a F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet. This version of the aircraft has a bigger airframe. The Hornet and Super Hornet are planned to be replaced by the F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter jet, which is scheduled to be in full production in 2014.

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