The HORNET is a supersonic, all weather, carrier based aircraft that was designed to be a single type to replace the Navy's McDonnell Douglas F-4 PHANTOM II and the Ling-Temco-Vought A-7 CORSAIR II in both the fighter and attack roles respectively.

Its first fight, BUNO 160775 powered by two General Electric F-404-GE-400 turbofan engines was on 18 November 1978. The first F/A-18 aircraft arrived here at Patuxent River to commence the aircraft's Full Scale Development (FSD) program in January 1979. This was the first new aircraft FSD program to be conducted here at Patuxent River; prior programs were primarily accomplished at prime contractor sites.

This very successful effort set the standard for all future Navy aircraft programs. The FSD Patuxent River Test Team was led by Navy Test Pilot CDR Roy Buehler, Navy Lead Test Engineer Joe Dunn, and McDonnell Douglas' Lead Test Engineering Manager Russ Shields. This program, completed in May 1982, involved 11 different F/A-18 aircraft and included all phases of development testing and evaluation of the aircraft. The first fleet delivery of a HORNET was to VFA-125 (Fleet Replacement Squadron) in November 1980. The first Fleet operational Hornets were delivered in 1983 to Navy squadron VFA-113 and Marines squadron VMFA-314. As of September 1996 more than 1,360 A, B, C, and D versions and variants have been built and are being flown by our Navy and Marines and five allied countries. The Integrated Test Team for the E/F variants of the HORNET is now active here at Patuxent River.

Our display aircraft, NFA-18A HORNET BUNO 161353, was accepted by the Navy in June 1981. It served with Fleet Training Squadron VFA-125 for its' first four plus years. It arrived at Patuxent River in March 1986. While involved in Test and Evaluation programs here, it participated in ordnance evaluation work and a test program for night vision goggles. This Hornet became a "Blue Angel" in March 1990 and was flown by our Navy's Flight Demonstration Team until September 1991. This aircraft returned to Patuxent River in August 1993. It was stricken from the Navy's operational inventory and, in August 1994, it was approved as a display aircraft for the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum. In September 1996, it joined the stable of display aircraft at the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum.

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