The F/A-18 Super Hornets employed by America’s Navy as carrier based air-to-air and ground support fighters have earned their reputation among the most effective military aircraft ever to take to the skies. Over decades of service, the Hornet and Super Hornet platforms have proven invaluable to American defense strategy and force projection around the globe, but despite the plane’s popularity, taking a ride inside one is still an honor relegated to a select few.
This video, uploaded in 2014, shows Super Hornet operations on and around the Nimitz class aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65), offering a rare glimpse of what it might be like to ride in the cockpit of these powerful aircraft as they conduct low-altitude flights, seemingly scraping the wave tops as they approach the carrier and zoom past it.
Last year, an F/A-18E Super Hornet was involved in a dogfight that ended with the downing of a Syrian Su-22, America’s first air-to-air victory since 1999, prompting a resurgence of interest in the storied air frame, but it was far from the plane’s first victory. On the very first day of the Persian Gulf War, four F/A-18Cs took off from the USS Saratoga with orders to bomb an airfield in Southwest Iraq. They were only airborne a short time before an E-2 Hawkeye airborne control aircraft notified them that two Iraqi Mig-21s were headed their way.
The Super Hornets adjusted course, and forty seconds after they received notification from the E-2, both Migs had already been turned into smoking rubble on the desert earth below.
While more advanced fighters have since been introduced, like the Air Force’s F-22 Raptor or the F-35 Lightning, the F/A-18 platform shows no signs of relinquishing its title as the U.S. Navy’s workhorse fighter. Another round of upgrades, similar in scope to the transition from Hornet to Super Hornet in 1999, is slated to begin this year — providing the jet with upgraded targeting systems, onboard computers, and even providing it with increased stealth capabilities.
This decision seems to indicate that, although the U.S. government is clearly invested in the success of the F-35, it isn’t ready to do away with one of its most successful jets of all time. In fact, under existing Navy plans, the F-35C isn’t slated to replace the use of the Super Hornet any time soon.
Each Navy Carrier Wing (of which there are ten) is optimally composed of four tactical fighter squadrons: three made up of Super Hornets, and one made up of legacy Hornets from prior to the upgrade. The Navy currently has plans to replace those old Hornets with the 5th generation F-35C fighter, but retain the Super Hornets — under the new Block III Upgrade configuration — for years to come.
Of course, budget concerns and organizational hierarchy management are both important things to consider for the Navy brass tasked with ensuring the United States maintains its air superiority over potential threats, but they’re not what you clicked on this article for. You came here to see just how badass the F/A-18C Super Hornet can be from a vantage point inside the cockpit.
Click on the video below to see the F/A-18C Super Hornet in action.
Find more stories like this on FighterSweep.com.