F/A-18 Hornet Marks 35 Years of Flight

It’s been 35 years since the F/A-18 Hornet took its first flight.

The F/A-18 Hornet community celebrated the anniversary during a ceremony Monday at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md.

The F/A-18 Hornet took its first flight Nov. 18, 1978. It was originally designed to replace the F-4 Phantom and the A-7 Corsair II. Today, the F/A-18 platform, including the Hornet, Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler, operate in 44 Navy and 11 Marine Corps strike fighter and electronic attack squadrons worldwide.

The F/A-18 Hornet, an all-weather aircraft, is used as an attack aircraft as well as a fighter. In its fighter mode, the F/A-18 is used primarily as a fighter escort and for fleet air defense; in its attack mode, it is used for force projection, interdiction, and close and deep air support.

Capt. Frank Morley, F/A-18 and EA-18G program manager, discusses the Legacy Hornet, Super Hornet and Growler.

F/A-18 by the numbers…

  8,692,167 flight hours logged thru Sept. 1, 2013

11 major combat operations: Operation Prairie Fire El Dorado Canyon Deny Flight Desert Storm Southern Watch Enduring Freedom Iraqi Freedom Allied Force Odyssey Dawn Operation New Dawn Operation Northern Watch

Operation Prairie Fire
El Dorado Canyon
Deny Flight
Desert Storm
Southern Watch
Enduring Freedom
Iraqi Freedom
Allied Force
Odyssey Dawn
Operation New Dawn
Operation Northern Watch

 7 international partners: Australia, Canada, Finland, Kuwait, Malaysia, Spain and Switzerland

Australia, Canada, Finland, Kuwait, Malaysia, Spain and Switzerland
(Photo courtesy of Royal Australian Navy)


Experience a flight in an F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to the Checkmates of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 211 during a deployment in 2011 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65). 

Firsts…

  • Nov. 18, 1978: First flight of the F/A-18 Hornet
  • Oct. 25, 1982: Canada, the first international purchaser of the F/A-18, receives its first two CF-18s.
  • Nov. 8, 1986: The Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron Blue Angels unveils its present aircraft, the F/A-18 Hornet.
  • Jan. 18, 1997: First carrier-based arrested landing of the F/A-18F Super Hornet on the deck of the USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74)
  • Aug. 3, 2006: Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Mullen accepts the first EA-18G Growler during a roll-out ceremony held at the Boeing Co. in St. Louis.
  • July 8, 2009: The Royal Australian Air Force accepted its first F/A-18F Super Hornet during a roll-out ceremony at Boeing’s manufacturing facility in St. Louis.
  • Aug. 5, 2009: EA-18G Growlers from Electronic Attack Squadron 129 (VAQ-129) and Electronic Attack Squadron 132 (VAQ-132) complete their first at-sea carrier-arrested landing aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75).
  • July 12, 2011: U.S. Navy marks 8 million accumulated flight hours for the F/A-18 family of aircraft.
  • May 3, 2013: In the first international sale of the EA-18G, the Australian government announces the purchase of Growlers for the Royal Australian Air Force.

Source: Naval Air Systems Command