U.S. Navy says goodbye to a legendary F/A-18C Hornet jet aircraft

Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nikita Custer

For decades, the F/A-18C Hornet aircraft was the primary fighter and attack aircraft of the U.S. Navy.  The aircraft was used in the Navy as a fighter escort and for fleet air defense; in its attack mode, it is used for force projection, interdiction and close and deep air support.

On 2 October, the last Navy F/A-18C Hornet assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106 made its official final active-duty flight at Naval Air Station.

“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 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.

This legendary aircraft has remained with the Gladiators for its’ entire 31 years of service. Aircraft number 300, assigned to VFA 106 at Cecil Field Florida, completed it first Navy acceptance check flight Oct. 14, 1988.

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Both the F/A-18A and F/A-18C Hornet variants have been replaced by the updated F/A-18E/F Super Hornets.

For reference, the last Navy squadron flying the legacy F/A-18C Hornet aircraft has stood down at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, Va., Feb. 1. The Blue Blasters of VFA-34 were the last squadron in the Navy flying the Hornet.

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