The combat-proven F/A-18 Hornet is a twin-engine, multi-mission, tactical aircraft. It converts between air-to-air fighter missions and air-to-ground strike missions while on the same sortie with the flick of a switch. Currently serving the armed services of eight nations, the F/A-18 fulfills the following types of assignment: fighter escort, suppression of enemy air defenses, reconnaissance, forward air control, close air support, and day and night strike missions.

Aircraft Characteristics

Designed to reduce life-cycle costs, the F/A-18 is available in two models and possesses the following characteristics.

  • Seating capacity/crew options:
    • Model F/A-18A: one-seat (pilot-only)
    • Model F/A-18B: two-seats (one for the pilot and one for the weapons/sensor officer [WSO])
  • Dimensions: length 56 ft (17.1 m), wing span 40 ft (12.3 m), height 15.3 ft (4.7 m)
  • Propulsion: two F404-GE-402 engines, each with 18,000 pounds of thrust
  • Top speed: Mach 1.8
  • Combat radius: 500+ nm (900+ km)


In addition to an M61A1 20-mm gun mounted inside the nose of the craft, the F/A-18 carries up to 13,700 pounds (6,227 kg) of external ordnance and has nine weapon stations as follows:

  • Two wingtip stations for Sidewinders
  • Two outboard wing stations for air-to-air or air-to-ground weapons
  • Two inboard wing stations that can be used for fuel tanks, air-to-air weapons, or air-to-ground weapons
  • Two nacelle fuselage stations for AMRAAMs, Sparrows, or sensor pods
  • One centerline station for fuel or for air-to-ground weapons

Systems and Technologies

The F/A-18 utilizes various systems and technologies to minimize the likelihood of detection, escape if detected, and return safely if hit.

  • Radar: APG-73 with increased speed and memory capacity
  • Targeting: laser target designator/ranger that is housed in a forward-looking infrared sensor, which enables the craft to deliver precision laser-guided bombs accurately

Worldwide Deployment

The F/A-18 has been deployed by the armed services of the following nations: United States (Navy and Marines), Canada, Australia, Spain, Kuwait, Finland, Switzerland, and Malaysia.