In keeping with the whole "I'm at NAS Lemoore" theme for this week. It seemed appropriate to feature the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet (the Rhino) for this week's Friday Flyby. I'm sure Buck will forgive me. After all, that link back there has big floating things painted haze gray. Granted, he had some Air Force stuff too, but I haven't seen any Air Force stuff out here this week. Though rumor has it there are one (or two?) of these bad boys at Fresno-Yosemite International.
The Super Hornet achieved initial operating capability (IOC) in September 2001 with the U.S. Navy's Strike Fighter Squadron 115 (VFA-115) at Naval Air Station Lemoore,
California. VFA-115 was also the first unit to take their F/A-18 Super Hornets into combat. On 6 November 2002, two F/A-18Es conducted a "Response Option" strike in support
of Operation Southern Watch on two surface-to-air missile launchers at Al Kut, Iraq and an air defense command and control bunker at Tallil air base. One of the pilots,
Lieutenant John Turner, dropped 2,000 pounds (910 kg) JDAM bombs from the Super Hornet for the first time during combat.
VFA-14 and two F/A-18Fs from VFA-41 were forward deployed to the USS Abraham Lincoln. The VFA-14 aircraft flew mostly as aerial refuelers and the VFA-41 fighters as Forward Air Controller (Airborne) or FAC(A)s. On 6 April 2005, VFA-154 and VFA-147 (the latter squadron then still operating F/A-18Cs) dropped two 500-pound (230 kg) laser-guided bombs on an enemy insurgent location east of Baghdad.
On 8 September 2006, VFA-211 F/A-18F Super Hornets expended GBU-12 and GBU-38 bombs against Taliban fighters and Taliban fortifications west and northwest of Kandahar. This was the first time the unit was in combat with the Super Hornet.
During the 2006–2007 cruise with USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, VFA-103 and VFA-143 supported Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom and operations off the Somali coast.
Alongside "Legacy Hornet" squadrons, VFA-131 and VFA-83, they dropped 140 precision guided weapons and performed nearly 70 strafing runs.
In 2007, Boeing proposed additional F/A-18E/Fs to the U.S. Navy in a multi-year contract. In 2008, it was reported that the Navy was considering buying additional F/A-18 Super Hornets to bridge a "strike-fighter" gap. As of October 2008, Boeing had delivered 367 Super Hornets to the U.S. Navy.
On 6 April 2009, Defense Secretary Gates announced that the Department of Defense intends to acquire further 31 F/A-18s in FY2010. Congressional action has requested that the DoD study a further multi-year contract in order to avoid a projected strike fighter shortfall. The FY2010 budget bill authorizes, but does not require, a multiyear purchase
agreement for additional Super Hornets.
On 14 May 2010, it was reported that Boeing and the U.S. Department of Defense reached an agreement for a multi-year contract for an additional 66 F/A-18E/Fs and 58 EA-18Gs
over the next four years. The latest order for 124 aircraft will raise the total fleet count to 515 F/A-18E/Fs and 114 EA-18Gs. However, the Navy is already 60 fighters below its validated requirement for fighter aircraft and this purchase will not close the gap. The deal was finalized on 28 September 2010 for a multi-year contract said to save $600 million (over per year contracts) for 66 Super Hornets and 58 Growlers and to help deal with a four-year delay in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.
I wonder how they're going to deal with no, as in zero, F-35s? According to my sources, there currently is a crying need for spare parts. Guess what? The geniuses in the Pentagon don't really have a system in place to just buy parts. So not only is there a shortfall in actual airframes, but of the ones we already have, some don't fly. You can't fly what you can't fix. Trust me, I know these things.
Anyhoo, ladies and gentlemen, the Super Hornet...
|Pilot's Cockpit, WSO's Cockpit|
(Hhhmmm, the one on the left looks familiar...)
|Loaded for Bear|
Until next time...