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F/A‐18A/B ‘Classic’ Hornets are multi‐role fighter aircraft introduced from 1985 to replace the Dassault Mirage IIIO fighter fleet which had been in service since 1963. Seventy five F/A‐18A/Bs were acquired and delivered over a five‐year period between 1985 and 1990, allocated across the four fighter squadrons: 2OCU, 3SQN, 75SQN and 77SQN:
The Hornet was developed for the US Navy and Marine Corps and is a well-known and successful aircraft. It is used by Canada, Finland, Kuwait, Malaysia, Spain and Switzerland.
Original differences between the Australian variant and US Navy standard F/A‐18 included a larger landing light which replaced the catapult launch nose wheel tie bar (later re‐fitted with a dummy version to reduce wheel shimmy).
Other differences included ILS/VOR instead of the US Navy’s carrier landing system; inclusion of a high frequency radio; SUU‐20 practice bomb dispenser / BDU‐33 practice bomb capability; an Australian fatigue data analysis system and an improved video/voice recorder.
To enhance the fleet’s combat effectiveness and longevity, from 1999 a comprehensive ten‐year multi‐phase Hornet Upgrade Program installed electronic and structural upgrades to create a unique Australian configuration, more similar in capability to later‐model F/A‐18C/D aircraft.
Max airspeed: over Mach 1.8 (1910 km/h / 1187mph) at altitude
Ceiling: above 15,240 m (50,000 ft)
Range: Ferrying: over 3700 km (without refuelling)
Interdiction: over 1,000 km
Combat Radius: 740 km
Empty: 10,455 kg (23,050 lb)
Max Loaded: 25,400 kg (56,000 lb)
Length: 17.07 m (56 ft)
Wingspan: 12.31 m (40 ft 4.75 in)
Height: 4.66 m (15 ft 3.5 in)
Power Plants: Two General Electric F404‐GE‐400 low bypass turbofans, each producing 4808 kg (10,600lb) thrust (dry) or 7257 kg (16,000 lb) with afterburner
Armament: AIM‐120 Advanced Medium Range Air‐to‐Air Missile (AMRAAM); AIM‐132 Advanced Short Range Air‐to‐Air Missile (ASRAAM); Practice, Conventional and Laser‐Guided Bombs; Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) and Laser JDAM; AGM‐158 Joint Air‐to‐Surface Stand‐Off Missile (JASSM); M61A1 Nose‐mounted 20mm Cannon
Avionics: Mission Computers; Helmet‐Mounted Cueing System; Heads‐up Displays; Radar and Infrared Sensing &
Targeting Systems: Electronic Warfare & Infrared Self Protection Systems
Fuel: Up to three 330 US‐gallon (1,200 L) external fuel tanks and in‐flight refuellable using internally‐retractable fuel probe (probe & drogue system compatible)
Crew: 1 Pilot (F/A‐18A fighter variant) or 1/2 Pilots (F/A‐18B twin‐seat trainer variant)
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