Now since our beloved, one and only, F/A-18C Hornet has started getting regular updates, I think it’s about time all the “enthusiasts” start a little bit of book reading or “research” into what the awesome aircraft the F/A-18C is.
And no, by “research” I don’t mean googling the maximum range of SLAM-ER or how far a HARM in POS/EOM mode can be launched. Since ED has clearly mentioned that almost all these guided air-to-ground munitions would be coming later, the DCS community would be busy with flying and learning the aircraft and its various systems in the starting days.
This is a first of my planned Hornet familiarisation articles geared for making even the newcomers accustomed to the aircraft. I will be covering the Hornet powerplant, electrical, hydraulic, flight control and depending on whether I get reliable resources, certain weapon systems and JHMCS.
So let’s get to the basics, the F/A-18C Hornet is a single-place fighter/attack aircraft built by McDonnell Douglas Aerospace(now merged with Boeing). It is powered by two F404-GE-402 (enhanced performance) turbofan engines with afterburner. The aircraft features a variable camber mid-wing with leading edge extensions(LEX) mounted on each side of the fuselage from the wing roots to just forward of the windshield. The twin vertical stabilizers are angled outboard 20° from the vertical. The wings have hydraulically actuated leading edge and trailing edge flaps and ailerons. The twin rudders and differential stabilators are also hydraulically actuated. The speed brake is mounted on the top side of the aft fuselage between the vertical stabilizers. The pressurized cockpit is enclosed by an electrically operated clamshell canopy. An aircraft mounted auxiliary power unit (APU) is used to start the engines. On the ground, the APU may be used to supply air conditioning or electrical and hydraulic power to the aircraft systems.
McDonnell Douglas rolled out the first F/A-18A on 13 September 1978, in blue-on-white colours marked with “Navy” on the left and “Marines” on the right. Its first flight was on 18 November. In a break with tradition, the Navy pioneered the “principal site concept” with the F/A-18, where almost all testing was done at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, instead of near the site of manufacture, and using Navy and Marine Corps test pilots instead of civilians early in development. In March 1979, Lt. Cdr. John Padgett became the first Navy pilot to fly the F/A-18.
Following trials and operational testing by VX-4 and VX-5, Hornets began to fill the Fleet Replacement Squadrons (FRS) VFA-125, VFA-106, and VMFAT-101, where pilots are introduced to the F/A-18. The Hornet entered operational service with USMC Squadron VMFA-314 at MCAS El Toro on 7 January 1983 and with Navy squadron VFA-125 in March 1984, replacing F-4s and A-7Es, respectively.
US Navy strike-fighter squadrons VFA-125 and VFA-113 (assigned to CVW-14) deployed aboard USS Constellation (CV-64) from February to August 1985, marking the first deployment for the F/A-18.
The F/A-18 first saw combat action in April 1986, when VFA-131, VFA-132, VMFA-314, and VMFA-323 Hornets from USS Coral Sea flew SEAD missions against Libyan air defences during Operation Praire Fire and an attack on Benghazi as part of Operation El Dorado Canyon.
Now not to bore you guys with just raw figures, and even that’s a little bit too much for an introduction I guess. Stay tuned for the next article which will be on the Engine, Throttle controls, IFEI, EMD and the glorious ATC feature.
Clear skies and happy hunting to everyone!!