The Hornet was developed in the mid-1970s as a replacement for the F-4 Phantom II and the A-7 Corsair that were then in use by the U.S. Navy and Marines as ground attack aircraft. The F/A-18 was derived from the YF-17 that had competed for the U.S. Air Force contract that resulted in the F-16 Fighting Falcon. The YF-17 was redesigned to add more fuel, folding wings, and strengthened landing gear among other changes to adapt it for use from aircraft carriers. The first production versions of the Hornet went into service with the Navy and Marines in 1983. Most of the early F/A-18A Hornets have been retired but some continue to fly with Navy and Marine training squadrons. The F/A-18C and the newest F/A-18E and F Super Hornets are the primary fighters and attack aircraft for the US Navy and Marines. Hornets have been sold to several foreign nations including Australia, Canada, Spain, Switzerland, Finland, Kuwait, and Malaysia.
The F/A-18 was adopted by the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels aerial demonstration team in 1986. It has now served with the team for over 30 years making it the longest serving aircraft type to fly with the Navy’s aerial demonstration team.
Built by McDonnell Douglas Aircraft, St. Louis, Missouri and delivered to the U.S. Navy. The complete service history of this aircraft is not currently available. However, it is known that by 2002 it had been assigned to Naval Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23 (VX-23) at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. In 2008 the aircraft was transferred to the Blue Angels where it served until its retirement in 2012. In April 2013, it was placed on loan to the Pima Air & Space Museum by the National Naval Aviation Museum.
U.S. Navy Blue Angels, 2012
Pima Air & Space Museum
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