The last Navy F/A-18C Hornet, aircraft number 300, made its official final active-duty flight at Naval Air Station Oceana, Oct. 2. Assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106 at Cecil Field, Florida, aircraft number 300 completed its first Navy acceptance check flight Oct. 14, 1988. Lt. Andrew Jalali, who piloted the Hornet for its final active-duty flight at Naval Air Station Oceana, was also born in 1988.
“Today marked the final United States Navy F/A-18C Operational Hornet flight,” said the Commodore, Command Strike Fighter Wing Atlantic, Capt. Brian Becker.
The aircraft has remained with the Gladiators for its entire 31-years of service. The aircraft took off from NAS Oceana accompanied by three F/A-18F Super Hornets for a one-and-a-half hour flight and return to Oceana where it will be officially stricken from the inventory, stripped of all its usable parts and be scrapped. Becker said the F/A-18C aircraft has served admirably for over 30 years and highlighted its history in naval aviation.
“Its technological innovation was continued on the F/A-18 E/F/G aircraft and helped the U.S. Navy transition from 4th to 5th generation aircraft,” said Becker. During the last year, VFA-106 has transferred over 50 F/A-18 Hornets to various Navy Reserve and U.S. Marine aviation commands, as well as, being placed in preservation for future use if needed. Both the F/A-18A and F/A-18C Hornet variants have been replaced by the updated F/A-18E/F Super Hornets.
VFA-106 is the Navy’s East Coast Fleet Replacement Squadron, which trains naval aviators to fly the F/A-18 Super Hornets.
The US Marine Corps plans to fly the legacy Hornet until 2030, at which time the Lockheed Martin F-35B will completely replace the plane.Other countries still operating the legacy Hornets are Australia, Canada, Finland, Kuwait, Malaysia, Spain and Switzerland.The Hornet F/A-18A and F/A-18C variants were originally produced by McDonnell Douglas, which was purchased by Boeing in 1997. The US Navy’s legacy Hornets were replaced by the bigger and more modern version Boeing F/A-18E.
Source: US Navy
Images: U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nikita Custer