The McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet is a twin-engine, multimission and tactical aircraft designed for the offensive, both ground and aerial targets.
The F/A-18A entered service on September 13, 1978 and its maiden flight was on November 18. The first production of F/A-18A flew on April 12, 1980. The F/A-18 first saw combat action in April 1986, the time during operation Prairie Fire, when VFA-131 Hornets from USS Coral Sea flew SEAD missions against Libyan air defenses.
The aircraft has an M611A1 20-mm gun mounted inside the nose of the craft and carries up to 13,700 pounds of external ordinance and has nine weapon stations.
The F/A-18 fulfills these assignments: fighter escort, supression of enemy air defenses, forward air control, close air support and day and night strike missions. The F/A-18A has a maximum speed of 1,190 mph at 40,000 ft. and has a ferry range of 2,070 mi. The F/A-18 utilizes various systems and technologies to minimize the likelihood of detection. It has an APG-73 with increased speed and memory capacity. It also has a laser target designator/ranger which enables it to deliver precision laser-guided bombs accurately.
In 2001, four F/A-18A aircrafts were deployed to Diego Garcia during coalition operations against the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The F/A-18 has been deployed by the armed services to the United States (NAvy an MArines), Canada, Australia, Spain, Kuwait, Finland, Switzerland and Malaysia.