The McDonnell Douglas (Boeing) F/A-18E Super Hornet is a twin-engine, single-seat, carrier-based multirole fighter. Although sharing many design and flight characteristics with the F/A-18C/D, the F/A-18E/F is larger and more advanced. Informally known as the ‘Rhino’, the F/A-18E/F is effectively a new aircraft carrying 33% more internal fuel, increasing mission range by 41% and endurance by 50%.
Other differences include rectangular intakes for the engines and two extra wing hard points for payload (for a total of 11). Design incorporates a combination of stealth, advanced electronic-warfare capabilities, reduced ballistic vulnerability, the use of standoff weapons, and innovative tactics that cumulatively and collectively enhance the safety of the fighter and crew.
The F/A-18E/F entered US Navy service in 2000, replacing all F-14 Tomcats by 2006. A single Super Hornet exhibits multiple capabilities that, in the past, would have been performed by several discrete aircraft in light attack, medium attack, fighter, recon, tanker, and electronic warfare roles. It is anticipated that $1 billion in fleet wide annual savings will result from replacing other types with the Super Hornet.
Armament: 20 mm M61 Vulcan nose-mounted Gatling gun; 11 hardpoints with capacity for 17,750 lb of external fuel and ordnance; Sidewinder, AMRAAM, and Sparrow air-to-air missiles; Maverick, SLAM, HARM, and JSOW air-to-surface missiles; Harpoon anti-ship missile; various bombs, counter measures, and drop tanks.