The F/A-18C/D has the space, power and cooling capability
needed to accommodate installation-sensitive avionics. Starting
in spring 2014, a total of 60 retrofits began for the F/A-18C/D
electronics warfare systems, resulting in sophisticated systems
such as the block three Integrated Defensive Electronic
Countermeasures System that includes the AN/ALR- 67(V) 3
radar warning receiver, AN/ALQ-214(V) 5 airborne jammer and
AN/ALE- 47 infrared countermeasures dispenser.
Following a production run of more than 400 F/A-18A/Bs,
deliveries of the single-seat F/A-18C and two-seat F/A-18D
began in October 1987. The F/A-18C/Ds incorporated provisions for employing updated missiles and jamming devices
against enemy ordnance. They are armed with the AIM- 120
Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) and
the infrared-imaging version of the AGM-65 Maverick air-to-ground tactical missile.
The Hornet will continue to fill Navy carrier air wings for
years to come, gradually giving way to the larger and longer-range F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and F- 35 Lightning II. Marines
will continue to operate F/A-18A++/C/C+/Ds until they are
replaced by F-35s. The last Hornet, an F/A-18D, rolled off the
Boeing production line in August 2000.
The Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) program of
record continues to be successful. The majority of operating
F/A-18A-D Hornets are receiving modifications to extend their
service lives beyond 8,000 flight hours; a subset of the aircraft
will be modified to attain the 10,000 flight hour goal. In addition to modifications, all fleet aircraft will need to incorporate
the high-flight-hour-inspection suite prior to exceeding 8,000
flight hours to ensure safety of flight and airworthiness.
The F/A- 18 Hornet is employed in Navy and Marine Corps
strike fighter squadrons and in the air forces of seven countries
outside of the United States, including Australia, Canada,
Finland, Kuwait, Malaysia, Spain and Switzerland. A total of
1,503 F/A-18A-D Hornets were produced for domestic and
As of November 2014, the Navy and Marine Corps had 616 F/A-
18A-D aircraft in service and in test roles, of which 37 F/A-18Cs are
stored and planned for avionics upgrades beginning in 2016.
Legacy Hornets equip 19 active Navy and Marine Corps
squadrons, one Navy and one Marine Corps Reserve VFA/
VMFA squadron, three fleet readiness VFA/VFMA squadrons,
one Navy Reserve fighter composite squadron, three VX
squadrons, the Navy’s Flight Demonstration Squadron (Blue
Angels) and the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center.
WINGSPAN: .................. 40. 4 feet
LENGTH:...................... 56 feet
HEIGHT: ....................... 15. 3 feet
WEIGHT: ....................... 51,900 pounds maximum takeoff
SPEED:.........................Mach 1. 7+
CEILING:.......................approx. 50,000 feet
RANGE:........................Hi-Lo-Lo-Hi profile radius with 3 330-gallon
external fuel tanks and 4 1,000-pound bombs:
369 nautical miles
POWER PLANT:............ 2 General Electric F404-GE-402 enhanced-
performance engines; 18,000 pounds static
uninstalled thrust or 2 General Electric F404-
GE-400 engines, 16,000 pounds static unin-
ARMAMENT:.................. 1 M61A1/M61A2 20mm guns; 14,000 pounds
of external stores; general bombs; GPS/laser-
guided bombs; air-to-air and air-to-ground mis-
siles; and various other types of pods and mines
CREW: ..........................F/A-18A and C, 1 pilot; F/A-18B and D, 2 pilots
or 1 pilot and 1 weapons systems officer
CONTRACTOR: ...........Boeing Co.
F-35C LIGHTNING II
BRIEFING: The F- 35 Lightning II program is designed to field
transformational strike aircraft for the Navy, Marine Corps and Air
Force that include next-generation sensors and weapons systems,
stealth characteristics and a high level of commonality among versions. The F-35C, designed for carrier operations, features a larger wing and stronger landing gear than the F-35A being developed
for the Air Force. The F-35C will be a single-piloted strike fighter
powered by the world’s most powerful fighter engine. It has an
APG- 81 AESA multipurpose radar and internal bay for a low
observable cross-section and to carry precision weapons.
It also has internal Electro-Optical Targeting System Optics
to provide dual infrared imaging and infrared search and track
(IRS&T) targeting functions. The Distributed Aperture System
(DAS) provides a variety of different functions, including spherical missile approach warning, all-aspect IRS&T and an infrared
source for the night vision to be displayed on the Helmet-Mounted Display (HMD).
The head-up display found in legacy aircraft has been
replaced by the HMD as a primary flight reference. The HMD
has a 30-degree by 40-degree display that provides night vision
via infrared DAS video or night camera electro-optic video
mounted on the HMD.
The Human Systems Interface is rounded out with voice
recognition, three-dimensional audio and an 8-inch by 20-inch
tactical display. The data link suite includes two-way Link 16,
Variable Message Formatting, Multifunction Advanced Data
Link (low-probability-of-intercept, high-data-capability, F-35-
only data link) and a P- 5 training data link.
Now completing the 10th year of a 13-year systems development and demonstration phase, the F-35C is the third variant of
the aircraft to be flight tested. It will incorporate many of the
weight-saving design changes planned for the Marine Corps F-
35B short-takeoff, vertical-landing version.
The first F-35C made its first flight on June 6, 2010, and was
delivered to the test team at Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River,
Md., on Nov. 6, 2010. By mid-2011, three F-35Cs were in testing at
Patuxent River. In 2011, the F-35C completed catapult launch and
jet-blast deflector tests. In 2012, landing trials revealed the need for
a redesigned tailhook that was tested in 2013-2014. The F-354C
made its first arrested landing on USS Nimitz on Nov. 3, 2014.
Originally, the U.S. Navy was the only customer for the F-35C,
which is scheduled to reach IOC in fiscal 2016 and begin replacing