"Golden Dragons"
McDonnell Douglas (Boeing) F/A-18C Hornet

The US Navy and Marines operate the F/A-18 Hornet in a variety of roles.  Able to lift off a carrier deck, bomb a target and stay to dog-fight enemy fighters.  The Hornet’s development started as a result of the US Air Forces 1970’s requirement for a lightweight fighter.

Proposals by both General Dynamics (F-16) and Northrop (F-17) were developed and a fly-off was held in 1974.  It was a bitter disappointment for Northrop when the USAF picked the F-16 as its Air Combat Fighter in January 1975.

When the Navy required a new fighter, Northrop realized they hadlittle naval experience and were quick to accept an offer from Mc-Donnell Douglas to collaborate on a carrier-based version of their F-17 fighter proposal.

While McDonnell Douglas kept the basic aerodynamic shape of the F-17, major design changes really created a new airplane in the now designated F-18.  The first production examples of the F/A-18 Hornet, adding the “A” to signify attack in addition to fighter, were delivered in 1980.

Shown in this painting, performing a high ‘alpha’ turn, is a F/A-18C Hornet belonging to the ‘CAG’ Carrier Air Group Commander of Strike Fighter Squadron VFA-192 “Golden Dragons” alongside their squadron insignia (as of December, 2009).