McDonnell Douglas/Boeing F/A-18C Hornet

Last revised April 17, 2000


Following the delivery of 371 F/A-18As in production blocks 4 to 22, manufacture turned to the F/A-18C version, which was introduced beginning with Block 23.

The differences between the F/A-18A and C were entirely internal. The F/A-18C featured a Martin-Baker NACES (Navy Aircrew Common Ejection Seat), an improved mission computer, an airborne self-protection jammer, and a flight incident recording and monitoring system. The F/A-18C is compatible with carriage of the AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missile, and can carry the AGM-65F infrared Maverick and the AGM-84 Harpoon air-to-surface missiles.

The first F/A-18C (BuNo 163427) was flown on September 3, 1987. Production F/A-18Cs were initially powered by the General Electric F404-GE-400, the same engine which powered the F/A-18A.

The latest F/A-18C aircraft from FY 1988 onward have been equipped to full night-attack standard, with a Kaiser AV/AVQ-28 raster HUD that presents the images provided by the thermal imaging navigation set. The F/A-18C Night Attack Hornet has a pod-mounted Hughes AN/AAR-50 thermal imaging navigation set, a Loral AN/AAS-38 Nite Hawk FLIR targeting pod, and GEC Cat's Eyes pilot's night vision goggles. The Night Attack Hornet also features two Kaiser 5in x 5in color multi-function displays (these were monochrome in previous Hornets) and a Smiths Srs 2100 color digital moving map navigation display. From January 1993 onwards, the AAS-38 pod added a laser target designator/ranger subsystem, allowing Hornets to deliver precision laser-guided weapons without requiring an external laser source.

The first prototype Night Attack Hornet flew on May 6, 1988, and production deliveries began on November 1, 1989 with F/A-18C BuNo 163985, the first aircraft in Block 29. Squadron deliveries began on November 18, 1989, with 163992 going to VFA-146 "Blue Diamonds" at NAS Lemoore, California. The first Night Attack Hornet was delivered to the Marines on August 8, 1991, when VMFA-312 "Checkerboards".

Beginning in January 1991, with Block 36, the F/A-18C switched to the General Electric F404-GE-402 EPE (Enhanced Performance Engine) The EPE engine generates approximately 17,600 lb.s.t., as compared to only 16,000 lb.s.t. for the earlier -400 series.

The AN/APG-65 radar of the Hornet has now been superseded by the more capable AN/APG-73. This radar has greater speed and memory than the AN/APG-65 now in use. It has an changed bandwidth, increased internal operating rates of the receiver/exciter, an increased processing speed in the radar signal processor, new radar data processing hardware to increase the throughput speed and an expanded memory. There is an upgraded power supply. The first APG-73-equipped F/A-18 flew for the first time on April 15, 1992, and the first APG-73-equipped Hornets were delivered on May 25-26, 1994. They went to VFA-146 "Blue Diamonds" and VFA-147 "Argonauts" at NAS Lemoore, California. This radar became the standard fit in all new production F/A-18C/D fighters in the US Navy and US Marine Corps, and was installed in those Hornets ordered by Finland, Malaysia, and Switzerland.

Aircraft built from 1993 onwards have improved defensive systems. Their AN/ALE-39 chaff dispensers were replaced by AN/ALE-47s and their AN/ALR-67 radar warning receivers were upgraded.

On August 1, 1997, the McDonnell Douglas corporation merged with Boeing. Manufacture of the Hornet continued, but under the Boeing name.

Production of the F/A-18C for the US Navy ended in 1999. It currently equips all but one of the active duty US Navy VFA squadrons. The F/A-18C currently carries the AIM-120 AMRAAM, the AGM-84E SLAM and the infrared-imaging AGM-65 Maverick. The AGM-154 joint stand-off Weapon was introduced in 1997, and the AGM-84H SLAM-ER was introduced in 1999. Late-model F/A-18Cs feature a FLIR pod, a raster heads-up display, night vission goggle compatibility, and a digital color moving map display. The fleet of F/A-18Cs is being upgraded with a tactical FLIR/laser designator pod, ARC-210 radios, GPS, and a cockpit video recorder. Satellite communication capability and the ability to carry the Block 6 version of the HARM missile.

Specification of McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Hornet:

Engines: Two General Electric F404-GE-400 turbofans, each rated at 10,600 lb.s.t. dry and 15,800 lb.s.t. with afterburning. Later versions of the F/A-18C are powered by the F404-GE-402 turbofan, rated at 17,700 lb.s.t with afterburning. Performance: (-400 engine) Maximum speed Mach 1.8 (1190 mph) at 40,000 feet with AAMs on wingtip and fuselage stations. Combat radius 480 miles in air-to-air mission, 735 miles with three 330 US gallon drop tanks. Weights: 23,050 pounds empty, 36,710 pounds loaded (air-to-air), 49,224 pounds loaded (ground attack), 56,000 pounds maximum takeoff. Dimensions: maximum wingspan 37 feet 6 inches, length 56 feet 0 inches, height 15 feet 4 inches, wing area 400 square feet. Fuel: 1670 US gallons internal. A total of three external 330 US gallon drop tanks can be carried, raising total fuel to 2660 US gallons. Armament: One 20-mm M61A1 cannon and up to 17,000 pounds of ordnance or fuel distributed on nine stations.

Serials of F/A-18C:

163427/163433		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-23-MC Hornet (Lot 10)
163435			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-23-MC Hornet (Lot 10)
163437/163440		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-23-MC Hornet (Lot 10)
163442/163444		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-23-MC Hornet (Lot 10)
163446			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-23-MC Hornet (Lot 10)
163448/163451		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-23-MC Hornet (Lot 10) 
163453			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-23-MC Hornet (Lot 10)
163455/163456		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-23-MC Hornet (Lot 10)
163458/163459		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-24-MC Hornet (Lot 10) 
163461/163463		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-24-MC Hornet (Lot 10)
163465/163467		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-24-MC Hornet (Lot 10)
163469/163471		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-24-MC Hornet (Lot 10) 
163473			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-24-MC Hornet (Lot 10) 
163475/163478		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-24-MC Hornet (Lot 10) 
163480/163481		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-24-MC Hornet (Lot 10)
163483/163485		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-24-MC Hornet (Lot 10)
163487			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-25-MC Hornet (Lot 10) 
163489/163491		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-25-MC Hornet (Lot 10) 
163493/163496		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-25-MC Hornet (Lot 10) 
163498/163499		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-25-MC Hornet (Lot 10)
163502/163506		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-25-MC Hornet (Lot 10) 
163508/163509		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-25-MC Hornet (Lot 10)
163699			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-26-MC Hornet (Lot 11) 
163701/163706		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-26-MC Hornet (Lot 11) 
163708/163719		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-26-MC Hornet (Lot 11)
163721/163726		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-26-MC Hornet (Lot 11)
163727/163733		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-27-MC Hornet (Lot 11) 
163735/163748		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-27-MC Hornet (Lot 11) 
163750/163754		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-27-MC Hornet (Lot 11)
163755/163762		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-28-MC Hornet (Lot 11) 
163764/163770		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-28-MC Hornet (Lot 11) 
163772/163777		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-28-MC Hornet (Lot 11)
163779/163782		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-28-MC Hornet (Lot 11)
163985			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-29-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
163987/163988		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-29-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
163990			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-29-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
163992/163993		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-29-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
163995/163996		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-29-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
163998/164000		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-29-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164002/164004		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-29-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164006/164008		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-29-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164010			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-29-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164012/164013		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-29-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164015/164016		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-30-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164018			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-30-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164020/164021		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-30-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164023			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-30-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164025			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-30-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164027			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-30-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164029/164031		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-30-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164033/164034		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-30-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164036/164037		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-30-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164039			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-30-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164041/164042		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-31-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164044/164045		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-31-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164047/164048		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-31-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164050			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-31-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164052			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-31-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164054/164055		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-31-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164057			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-31-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164059/164060		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-31-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164062/164063		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-31-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164065/164067		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-31-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164197			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-32-MC Hornet (Lot 13)
164199/164202		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-32-MC Hornet (Lot 13)
164204/164206		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-32-MC Hornet (Lot 13)
164208/164210		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-32-MC Hornet (Lot 13)
164212/164215		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-32-MC Hornet (Lot 13)
164217/164218		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-32-MC Hornet (Lot 13)
164220/164223		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-33-MC Hornet (Lot 13)
164225/164227		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-33-MC Hornet (Lot 13)
164229/164232		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-33-MC Hornet (Lot 13)
164234/164236		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-33-MC Hornet (Lot 13)
164238/164240		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-33-MC Hornet (Lot 13)
164242/164244		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-33-MC Hornet (Lot 13)
164246/164248		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-33-MC Hornet (Lot 13)
164250/164253		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-34-MC Hornet (Lot 13)
164255/164258		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-34-MC Hornet (Lot 13)
164260/164262		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-34-MC Hornet (Lot 13)
164264/164266		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-34-MC Hornet (Lot 13)
164268/164271		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-34-MC Hornet (Lot 13)
164273/164278		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-34-MC Hornet (Lot 13)
164280/164339		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C/D Hornet
				contract cancelled
164411/164414		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-34-MC Hornet
164416/164421		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C-34-MC Hornet
164627/164648		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 35 Hornet (Lot 14)
164654/164655		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 36 Hornet (Lot 14)
164657/164658		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 36 Hornet (Lot 14)
164660/164661		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 36 Hornet (Lot 14)
164663/164664		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 36 Hornet (Lot 14)
164666			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 36 Hornet (Lot 14)
164668/164669		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 36 Hornet (Lot 14)
164671			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 37 Hornet (Lot 14)
164673			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 37 Hornet (Lot 14)
164675/164676		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 37 Hornet (Lot 14)
164678			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 37 Hornet (Lot 14)
164680/164682		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 37 Hornet (Lot 14)
164684			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 37 Hornet (Lot 14)
164686/164687		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 37 Hornet (Lot 14)
164689			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 37 Hornet (Lot 14)
164691			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 37 Hornet (Lot 14)
164693			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 38 Hornet (Lot 15)
164695/164698		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 38 Hornet (Lot 15)
164700/164701		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 38 Hornet (Lot 15)
164703/164704		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 38 Hornet (Lot 15)
164706/164708		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 38 Hornet (Lot 15)
164709/164710		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 39 Hornet (Lot 15)
164712/164713		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 39 Hornet (Lot 15) 
164715/164716		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 39 Hornet (Lot 15)
164718/164722		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 39 Hornet (Lot 15)
164724			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 39 Hornet (Lot 15)
164725/164725		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 40 Hornet (Lot 15)
164727/164728		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 40 Hornet (Lot 15)
164730/164734		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 40 Hornet (Lot 15)
164736/164737		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 40 Hornet (Lot 15)
164739/164740		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 40 Hornet
164741/164758		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C/D Hornet
				contract cancelled
164865			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 41 Hornet (Lot 16)
164867			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 41 Hornet (Lot 16)
164869			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 41 Hornet (Lot 16)
164871			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 41 Hornet (Lot 16)
164873			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 41 Hornet (Lot 16)
164874			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Block 41 Hornet (Lot 16)
					This aircraft may be an F/A-18C, not a D.
164875			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 41 Hornet (Lot 16)
164877			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 41 Hornet (Lot 16)
164879			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 41 Hornet (Lot 16)
164881			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 41 Hornet (Lot 16)
164883			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 42 Hornet (Lot 16)
164885			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 42 Hornet (Lot 16)
164887			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 42 Hornet (Lot 16)
164889/164897		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 42 Hornet (Lot 16)
164899/164900		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 43 Hornet (Lot 16)
164902/164912		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 43 Hornet (Lot 16)
165171/165182		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 47 Hornet (Lot 18)
				c/n 1287/C396, 1288/C397, 1290/C398, 1292/C399,
					1295/C400, 1297/C401, 1299/C402, 1300/C403,
					1301/C404, 1302/C405, 1304/C406, 1305/C407.
165183/165194		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 48 Hornet (Lot 18)
				c/n 1309/C408, 1310/C409, 1312/C410, 1318/C411,
					1321/C412, 1323/C413, 1326/C414, 1328/C415,
					1331/C416, 1333/C417, 1334/C418, 1338/C419
165195/165206		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 49 Hornet (Lot 18)
				c/n 1340/C420, 1342/C421, 1346/C422, 
					1348/C423, 1350/C424, 1353/C425, 1356/C426,
					1358/C427, 1360/C428, 1362/C429, 1364/C430,
					1367/C431.
165207/165218		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 50 Hornet (Lot 19)
				c/n 1376/C432, 1278/C433, 1380/C434, 1382/C435,
					1384/C436, 1386/C437, 1388/C438, 1390/C439,
					1392/C440, 1394/C441, 1396/C442, 1398/C443.
165219/165230		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 51 Hornet (Lot 19)
				c/n 1400/C444, 1403/C445, 1404/C446, 1406/C447,
					1408/C448, 1410/C449, 1411/C450, 1413/C451,
					1414/C452, 1415/C453, 1417/C454, 1418/C455.
165231/165242		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C/D Hornet 
				Contract cancelled.  Last 4 were to be Ds.
165399/165408		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Hornet (Lot 20)
				c/n 1420/C456, 1422/C457, 1424/C458, 1426/C459,
				1428/C460, 1432/C461, 1433/D462, 1442/C463,
				1448/C464, 1452/C465
165417			Boeing F/A-18C Hornet (Lot 20)
				c/n 1457/C466
165526			Boeing F/A-18C-52-MC Hornet



Sources:


  1. Hornet, Robert F. Dorr, World Air Power Journal, Spring 1990, p. 38.

  2. McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Since 1920: Volume II, Rene J. Francillon, Naval Institute Press, 1990.

  3. Vespidae Varius--Recent Variations in the Hornet Family, Paul Jackson, Air International, December 1993, p. 301

  4. Air Power Analysis--Aircraft of the US Navy, World Air Power Journal, Volume 37, 1999