Hornets had been in service for almost eight years by the time Operation Desert Storm began. On Jan 17, 1991 (local time), the air war started in Iraq, and the Hornets were given a trial by fire.
Two F/A-18s, each outfitted with four 2,000-pound bombs, left their air base on a conventional bombing run to take out enemy air defenses. Shortly into the mission they were intercepted and attacked by two Iraqi MiG fighter jets. Despite enemy interference, the two Hornets shot down the two MiG jets and then proceeded to bomb their target, completing the mission.
The Hornets performance in Desert Storm broke all previously held records for a tactical aircraft in combat.
Today, there are 37 tactical squadrons of F/A-18 Hornets in operation all over the world. The U.S. Navy's Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Squadron features the F/A-18 as its showpiece.
The flexible design of the Hornet makes it one of the most upgradable aircraft in the military. It has specifically been designed with the room, cooling and weight capacity to accommodate future upgrades and equipment.
By 2010 the Navy intends to retire the EA-6B Prowler with the F/A-18G Growler. The 'G' is a new variation on the Super Hornet modified for use in escort and jamming. The Growler will add punch to the traditional escort/jammer design by being able to defend itself better than any other plane previously used for this type of mission. The F/A-18G will fly radar-jamming missions alongside unmanned air vehicles such as the Predator or Global Hawk.
With its impeccable service record, reliability, flexibility and combat effectiveness it is safe to say that the F/A-18 will be in service for years to come.
For more information about the F/A-18 and related topics, check out the links on the next page.