The Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet on display here has become a familiar sight at the world’s air shows, invariably flying impressive displays. And the aircraft – known affectionately by its crews as the ‘Superbug’ – has been amassing an enviable reputation in service with the US fleet.

The Block II version of the aircraft incorporates improved displays, a decoupled aft cockpit and new computers, and enhanced network centric capabilities thanks to the integration of Link 16 MIDS, as well as an ATFLIR targeting pod, the joint helmet-mounted cueing system and the game changing AN/APG-79 AESA radar.

It is also much cheaper to produce, with a new forward fuselage that has 40% fewer parts, 51% fewer fasteners and which takes 31% less time to build.


APG-79 was incorporated in new build aircraft coming off the production line in 2005, but service introduction of the Block II F/A-18E/F with AESA has been delayed. The first squadron equipped with Block II aircraft achieved ‘safe for flight’ status in October 2006.

The Block II aircraft was originally expected to undertake a cruise with VFA-213 in 2007, but this was cancelled shortly after the original operational evaluation judged that it represented a "quantum leap" in air-to-air capability but at the same time reported that it was “not effective and not suitable for combat operations.”

Apart from VFA-213 (Black Lions), the Block II Super Hornet is now in service with VFA-106 (the West Coast Super Hornet training squadron) and VFA-22 (the Fighting Redcocks) received Lot 29 FA-18F Super Hornets equipped with the APG-79 in April 2007. VFA-211 and VFA-137 achieved Safe to Fly certification last week.

Source: Flight International