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BLUE ANGELS
Aircraft Model: F/A-18 Hornet
 
Aircraft Type: Fighter
 
Fly During Show: Yes
 
Display Open To Public: No
 
Web Site: www.blueangels.navy.mil/index.htm
Blue Angels
Divider

The Blue Angels

At the end of World War II, the Chief of Naval Operations, Chester W. Nimitz, ordered the formation of a flight demonstration team to keep the public interested in Naval Aviation. The Blue Angels performed their first flight demonstration less than a year later in June 1946 at their home base, Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville, Florida. LCDR Roy "Butch" Voris led the team, flying the Grumman F6F Hellcat.

Two months later, on August 25, 1946, the Blue Angels transitioned to the Grumman F8F Bearcat. The 1947 team, led by LCDR Robert Clarke, introduced the now-famous "Diamond Formation."

By the end of the 1940s, the Blue Angels were flying their first jet aircraft, the Grumman F9F-2 Panther. In response to the demands placed on Naval Aviation in the Korean Conflict, the team reported to the aircraft carrier USS Princeton as the nucleus of Fighter Squadron 191 (VF-191), "Satan’s Kittens," in 1950.

The team reorganized the next year and reported to NAS Corpus Christi, Texas, where they began flying the newer and faster version of the Panther, the F9F-5. The Blue Angels remained in Corpus Christi until the winter of 1954 when they relocated to their present home base at NAS Pensacola, Florida. Here they progressed to the swept wing Grumman F9F-8 Cougar.

The ensuing 20 years saw the Blue Angels transition to two more aircraft, the Grumman F11F-1 Tiger (1957) and the McDonnell Douglas F-4J Phantom II (1969).

In December 1974, the Navy Flight Demonstration Team began flying the McDonnell Douglas A-4F Skyhawk II and was reorganized into the Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron. This reorganization permitted the establishment of the first commanding officer (CDR Tony Less) instead of a flight leader, added support officers and further redefined the squadron’s mission, to enhance the recruiting effort.

On November 8, 1986, the Blue Angels completed their 40th anniversary year when they unveiled their present aircraft, the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet, the first dual-role fighter/attack aircraft, which is still serving on the nation’s front lines of defense.

In 1992, more than one million people viewed Blue Angels’ performances during a 30-day European deployment to Sweden, Finland, Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, Italy, the United Kingdom and Spain. This was the first European deployment in 19 years.

The 2009 show season brought out more than 8 million spectators. Since 1946, the Blue Angels have performed for more than 463 million fans.

The Aircraft:

Description
All-weather fighter and attack aircraft. The single-seat F/A-18 Hornet is the nation's first strike-fighter. It was designed for traditional strike applications such as interdiction and close air support without compromising its fighter capabilities. With its excellent fighter and self-defense capabilities, the F/A-18 at the same time increases strike mission survivability and supplements the F-14 Tomcat in fleet air defense. F/A-18 Hornets are currently operating in 37 tactical squadrons from air stations world-wide, and from 10 aircraft carriers. The U.S. Navy's Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Squadron proudly flies them. The Hornet comprises the aviation strike force for seven foreign customers including Canada, Australia, Finland, Kuwait, Malaysia, Spain and Switzerland.

The newest model, Super Hornet, is highly capable across the full mission spectrum: air superiority, fighter escort, reconnaissance, aerial refueling, close air support, air defense suppression and day/night precision strike. Compared to the original F/A-18 A through D models, Super Hornet has longer range, an aerial refueling capability, increased survivability/lethality and improved carrier suitability. [Capability of precision-guided munitions: JDAM (all variants) and JSOW. JASSM in the future]

Features
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.

Background
The F/A-18 demonstrated its capabilities and versatility during Operation Desert Storm, shooting down enemy fighters and subsequently bombing enemy targets with the same aircraft on the same mission, and breaking all records for tactical aircraft in availability, reliability, and maintainability.

Hornets taking direct hits from surface-to-air missiles, recovering successfully, being repaired quickly, and flying again the next day proved the aircraft's survivability. The F/A-18 is a twin engine, mid-wing, multi-mission tactical aircraft. The F/A-18A and C are single seat aircraft. The F/A-18B and D are dual-seaters. The B model is used primarily for training, while the D model is the current Navy aircraft for attack, tactical air control, forward air control and reconnaissance squadrons. The newest models, the E and F were rolled out at McDonnell Douglas Sept. 17, 1995. The E is a single seat while the F is a two-seater.

The F/A-18 E/F acquisition program was an unparalleled success. The aircraft emerged from Engineering and Manufacturing Development meeting all of its performance requirements on cost, on schedule and 400 pounds under weight. All of this was verified in Operational Verification testing, the final exam, passing with flying colors receiving the highest possible endorsement.

The first operational cruise of Super Hornet, F/A-18 E, was with VFA-115 onboard the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) on July 24, 2002, and saw initial combat action on Nov. 6, 2002, when they participated in a strike on hostile targets in the "no-fly" zone in Iraq.

Super Hornet, flew combat sorties from Abraham Lincoln during Southern Watch, demonstrating reliability and an increased range and payload capability. VFA 115 embarked aboard Lincoln expended twice the amount of bombs as other squadrons in their airwing (with 100% accuracy) and met and exceeded all readiness requirements while on deployment. The Super Hornet cost per flight hour is 40% of the F-14 Tomcat and requires 75% less labor hours per flight hour.

All F/A-18s can be configured quickly to perform either fighter or attack roles or both, through selected use of external equipment to accomplish specific missions. This "force multiplier" capability gives the operational commander more flexibility in employing tactical aircraft in a rapidly changing battle scenario. The fighter missions are primarily fighter escort and fleet air defense; while the attack missions are force projection, interdiction, and close and deep air support.

The F/A-18C and D models are the result of a block upgrade in 1987 incorporating provisions for employing updated missiles and jamming devices against enemy ordnance. C and D models delivered since 1989 also include an improved night attack capability. The E and F models have built on the proven effectiveness of the A through D aircraft. The Super Hornet provides aircrew the capability and performance necessary to face 21st century threats.

Service: Navy and Marine Corps

General Characteristics, Super Hornet, E and F models

Primary Function: Multi-role attack and fighter aircraft.
Contractor: McDonnell Douglas.
Date Deployed: First flight in November 1995. Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in September 2001 with VFA-115, NAS Lemoore, Calif. First cruise for VFA-115 is onboard the USS Abraham Lincoln.
Unit Cost: $57 million
Propulsion: Two F414-GE-400 turbofan engines. 22,000 pounds (9,977 kg) static thrust per engine.
Length: 60.3 feet (18.5 meters).
Height: 16 feet (4.87 meters).
Wingspan: 44.9 feet (13.68 meters).
Weight: Maximum Take Off Gross Weight is 66,000 pounds (29,932 kg).
Airspeed: Mach 1.8+.
Ceiling: 50,000+ feet.
Range: Combat: 1,275 nautical miles (2,346 kilometers), clean plus two AIM-9s
Ferry: 1,660 nautical miles (3,054 kilometers), two AIM-9s, three 480 gallon tanks retained.
Crew: A, C and E models: One
B, D and F models: Two.
Armament: One M61A1/A2 Vulcan 20mm cannon; AIM 9 Sidewinder, AIM-9X (projected), AIM 7 Sparrow, AIM-120 AMRAAM, Harpoon, Harm, SLAM, SLAM-ER (projected), Maverick missiles; Joint Stand-Off Weapon (JSOW); Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM); Data Link Pod; Paveway Laser Guided Bomb; various general purpose bombs, mines and rockets. See the F/A-18 weapons load-out page.

General Characteristics, C and D models

Primary Function: Multi-role attack and fighter aircraft.
Contractor: Prime: McDonnell Douglas; Major Subcontractor: Northrop.
Date Deployed: November 1978. Operational - October 1983 (A/B models); September 1987 (C/D models).
Unit Cost: $29 million.
Propulsion: Two F404-GE-402 enhanced performance turbofan engines. 17,700 pounds static thrust per engine.
Length: 56 feet (16.8 meters).
Height: 15 feet 4 inches (4.6 meters).
Wingspan: 40 feet 5 inches (13.5 meters).
Weight: Maximum Take Off Gross Weight is 51,900 pounds (23,537 kg).
Airspeed: Mach 1.7+.
Ceiling: 50,000+ feet.
Range: Combat: 1,089 nautical miles (1252.4 miles/2,003 km), clean plus two AIM-9s
Ferry: 1,546 nautical miles (1777.9 miles/2,844 km), two AIM-9s plus three 330 gallon tanks.
Crew: A, C and E models: One
B, D and F models: Two
Armament: One M61A1/A2 Vulcan 20mm cannon; AIM 9 Sidewinder, AIM 7 Sparrow, AIM-120 AMRAAM, Harpoon, Harm, SLAM, SLAM-ER, Maverick missiles; Joint Stand-Off Weapon (JSOW); Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM); various general purpose bombs, mines and rockets. See the F/A-18 weapons load-out page.

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