The era of bumblebee is over! Once derided as nothing bright spot, he has served the US military for 36 years.

 The era of bumblebee is over! Once derided as nothing bright spot, he has served the US military for 36 years.

Since then, the U.S. Navy has only equipped Super Hornet fighters, that is, f / A-18E / F.

Speaking of the F/A-18 fighter, it has been in service for 36 years. It was first designed as an air force fighter.

YF-16 and YF-17 testers.

In 1972, two prototypes of fighter planes participated in the selection of Air Force light fighter aircraft, one of which was YF-17, whose opponent was YF-16, and the result was self-evident. YF-16 was selected and eventually became a famous F-16 fighter.

Like the YF-23 fighter aircraft, the YF-17 was likely to become a museum collection after the failure of the selection. There was no chance of a comeback, but the historical opportunity was so coincidental. Two years later, the U.S. Navy began bidding for air fighters. Ladies and gentlemen of Congress are burned by the Vietnam War. They have tight pockets. As soon as the Navy wants to build new planes, they will wave their hands. Dont bother. The planes will be chosen from YF-16 and YF-17.

Then the Navy chose YF-17. The U.S. Navy wanted to equip two types of aircraft, the F-18 for air combat and the A-18 for ground attack. But soon the U.S. Navy realized that it could combine the two functions, which would be much better in operational use and economy, and the F/A-18 fighter was developed.

Head-up display of cockpit.

As a dual-launch multi-purpose fighter, the F/A-18 adopted many advanced technologies, such as glass cockpit, telex operating system, cathode ray tube display and so on. In terms of maintainability and operability, it has also been greatly improved.

In general, however, in his mind, it is a plane with no bright spots, especially in flight capability. Its maximum flight speed is Mach 1.8, but after carrying four Sparrows and two Rattlesnakes, it can not reach Mach 1.3, so some people call it the best performance subsonic fighter.

Of course, all of this is mainly because in front of the F / A-18, there is a predecessor whose aura is too dazzling. In front of it, many heavy fighters of the same era are hanged, that is, the F-14 male cat fighter.

The variable swept wing is a major feature of the F-14. At high speeds, the main wing sweeps back completely to form a delta wing (above), while at low speeds, the main wing extends (below).

So in terms of range, speed, climbing rate, combat radius and other combat indicators, F-14 is crushing to F/A-18, no way, heavy aircraft is great.

F-14 for pre-flight preparation on the Enterprise carrier.

The disadvantages of the F-14 are obvious. The first one is that it is expensive. The cost of a single aircraft reached 34 million US dollars in 1998, while the cost of the F-15 fighter, which is famous for its high price, is less than 30 million US dollars.

The second disadvantage is that maintenance is difficult, because the use of complex systems such as variable swept wings, F-14 maintenance is very troublesome, which makes it very expensive to use, is simply a nightmare for ground crew.

The third point is that it is entirely designed for air combat, so its ability to attack the ground is poor. For the navy, such a golden beast does not do much work, nor is it worth it.

Although the performance of the F/A-18 is different, it is easy to use, easy to maintain, cheap, air-to-ground, plus the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the top enemy, so the U.S. Navy later eliminated the F-14 and made the F/A-18 the only carrier-based fighter.

The earliest mass production of the F/A-18 was the F/A-18A model, which produced 371 units and was deployed in 1980.

In the Golden Canyon Mission, the F/A-18 of the VFA-131 team was loaded with HARM missiles to prepare for attack.

In 1986, F/A-18 fighter planes first participated in actual combat against Libya, which is the Golden Canyon Mission of the U.S. Army.

The F/A-18, together with the AGM-88A HARM high-speed anti-radiation missile, attacked Libyas radar and air defense facilities and played a role of kicking the door.

In 1991, F/A-18 fighters participated more fully in Operation Desert Storm. The U.S. Army has invested nine naval squadrons and seven Marine squadrons, mainly for ground attack operations, but two F/A-18 fighter planes shot down two Iraqi MiG-21 fighter planes on the day of the war. The two F/A-18 fighter planes were full of bombs at that time. After shooting down the Iraqi aircraft, they still completed their scheduled bombing missions, which shows that their air and ground capabilities are well-known.

The F/A-18B developed later is a two-seat version, initially developed as a trainer, but still has complete combat capability, so F/A-18B is basically equipped with front-line units, the total number of production shelves is about 40.

F/A-18 fighter Elephant Walk.

The F/A-18C upgraded the avionics system, enabling it to launch AIM-120 advanced medium-range missiles, and later enabled F/A-18 to have night combat capabilities. The basic performance of the two-seat version of F/A-18D is consistent with that of F/A-18C.

Compared with the F/A-18C/D and A/B models, the F/A-18C/D model has been upgraded in terms of airborne equipment, and the appearance and power system of the aircraft remain basically unchanged.

At the end of the last century, the Hornet Family ushered in the latest model, the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter.

Although it is still known as the bumblebee, it is not upgraded from the F/A-18C/D. It can be said that it is a completely new fighter design.

Comparisons of body size between F/A-18D and F/A-18E.

It is 30% larger than the F/A-18C/D, and has been redesigned with a larger F414 engine. Air weight has been increased from 11.2 tons to 14.5 tons. The maximum external hanging weight has been increased to 8 tons. It can carry 10 AIM-120 medium-range projectiles and 2 rattlesnake missiles, totaling 12 missiles.

In addition to adding more powerful engines, the radar system has been upgraded and APG-79 active phased array radar has been replaced, which greatly improves its air combat capability, because the purpose of the U.S. Navys research and development of the Super Hornet is to equip it with some of the F-14 fighter fleets periphery air defense capabilities.

The EG-18 Roaring Electronic Warfare Aircraft (EW) developed from the Super Hornet fighter is known as the most capable EW aircraft, and the most powerful EW in the fighter aircraft. It is said that it is the only fighter that has shot down the F22 in the exercise, and its performance is evident.

An E/A-18G Roaring electronic warfare aircraft with auxiliary fuel tanks and missiles.

The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter is not yet the final version of the Hornet family. The United States is planning to upgrade it to an advanced Super Hornet fighter, the F/A-18E/FBlock3, which has greatly improved its performance.

With longer body life, conformal fuel tank, smaller radar reflection area, more advanced airborne computer and Avionics system, more importantly, it has the ability to locate enemy stealth fighters. Two advanced super Bumblebee fighters can locate enemy stealth fighters and engage them outside visual range by means of infrared search and tracking (IRST) sensors.

Although the U.S. Navy has begun to equip F-35C fighter aircraft, in the future for a long time, bumblebee will continue to guard the U.S. aircraft carrier.

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