Naval Air: December 20, 2002

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The U.S. Navy F-18 Hornet aircraft have, as of December 12th, flown a total of five million hours. The F-18 has been in service for 19 years and 1,290 of them are currently in service with the U.S. Navy and seven foreign nations. F-18's hit the four million hour mark on September 14, 2000. The F-18 was originally designed for a competition to select the U.S. Air Force's "light fighter." The two engine F-18 lost to the single engine F-16. But the competition was close, and the Navy liked the F-18. In particular, the Navy liked that the F-18 engines, which is preferred for carrier operations (where losing one engine still allows the aircraft to limp back to the carrier or a land base.) Although designed as a fighter, F-18s spend most of their time as bombers. Criticized early on for their short range (compared to earlier naval warplanes), this has not proved a serious drawback. The Navy is still buying F-18s, in the form of the considerably upgraded F-18E/F ("Super Hornet.)

 


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