F/A-18E/F Super Hornet

In the early 1990s, the A-12 Avenger II was developed to replace the A-6 Intruder and A-7 Corsair II. The project flopped and was cancelled. However, this left the US Navy with a problem: no other aircraft was under development and a new project would take at least three decades to produce a usable product.

The Second Gulf War made it clear that the US Navy needed more combat power to keep up with the US Air Force and the already obsolete A-6 and A-7 would certainly not last another thirty years. A quick solution was required and therefore it was decided to update an existing design. McDonnell Douglas was originally going to develop the A-12. The aircraft manufacturer decided to respond to the new situation and to further develop the F/A-18 into an aircraft with heavier armament, a longer range and more advanced equipment.

In 1996 the Super Hornet flew its first test flight and it would take until 1999 before all tests were completed. A total of 3100 test flights were performed with a total duration of 4600 flight hours. Actual production started in March 1997.

The Super Hornet is now replacing many outdated aircraft types, including the A-6 Intruder, A-7 Corsair II, Lockheed S-3 Viking and Grumman F-14 Tomcat. A special version, the Grumman EA-18G Growler, will replace the Grumman EA-6 Prowler and take on electronic warfare duties. In short, only the US Navy's turboprops and helicopters will not be replaced by the Super Hornet.

Production History

Role                                    Multirole fighter

National origin                  United States

Manufacturer                    McDonnell Douglas (1974–1997) with Northrop (1974–1994) Boeing(1997–2000)

First flight                           18 November 1978;

Introduction                       7 January 1983 (USMC)
                                             1 July 1984 (USN)

Status                                  In service

Primaryusers                      United States Navy, United States Marine Corps
                                              Royal Australian Air Force
                                              Spanish Air and Space Force

                                              Swiss Air Force

Produced                            1974-2000

Number built                      F/A-18A/B/C/D: 1,480

Developed from                 Northrop YF-17

Variants                                McDonnell Douglas CF-18 Hornet

Developed into                   Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet