The Super Hornet is largely a new aircraft at about 20% larger, 7,000 lb (3,200 kg) heavier empty weight, and 15,000 lb (6,800 kg) heavier maximum weight than the Legacy Hornet
Developed by McDonnell Douglas, the Super Hornet, which first flew in 1995, is a twin-engine carrier-capable multirole fighter aircraft based on the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet. The F/A-18E single-seat and F/A-18F twin-seat variants are larger and more advanced derivatives of the F/A-18C and D Hornet.
The Hornet and Super Hornet share many characteristics, including avionics, ejection seats, radar, armament, mission computer software, and maintenance/operating procedures. The Super Hornet is largely a new aircraft at about 20% larger, 7,000 lb (3,200 kg) heavier empty weight, and 15,000 lb (6,800 kg) heavier maximum weight than the Legacy Hornet. The Super Hornet carries 33% more internal fuel, increasing mission range by 41% and endurance by 50% over the Legacy Hornet.
As the Super Hornet is significantly heavier than the Legacy Hornet, the catapult and arresting systems must be set differently. To aid safe flight operations and prevent confusion in radio calls, the Super Hornet is informally referred to as the “Rhino” to distinguish it from earlier Hornets. (The “Rhino” nickname was previously applied to the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II, which was retired from the fleet in 1987).
Furthermore the Super Hornet, unlike the Legacy Hornet, is designed to be equipped with an aerial refueling system (ARS) or “buddy store” for the refueling of other aircraft, filling the tactical airborne tanker role the U.S. Navy had lost with the retirement of the KA-6D Intruder and Lockheed S-3B Viking tankers.
Photo credit: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Chase Hawley/Released) / U.S. Navy
Artwork courtesy of AircraftProfilePrints.com