US Navy Blue Angels take delivery of first Super Hornet fighter jet
The US Navy's Blue Angels acrobatic team has taken delivery of its first F/A-18 Super Hornet test aircraft. The fighter is the first of 11 Boeing plans to deliver to the Navy team this year and will be used for flight testing and evaluation.
The Blue Angels have gained international fame as one of the premiere military precision flying and aerobatic teams. First formed in 1946, it's the second-oldest flight demonstration team after the Patrouille de France, which was established in 1931, and performs over 60 shows a year in various locations as part of its official mission of boosting navy morale, demonstrating US naval air power, and promoting public interest in aviation.
All of this means there's a great deal of interest in the planes used by the six Navy and US Marine Corps pilots who make up the Blue Angels. Over the past 74 years, the team has flown the Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat, Grumman F8F-1 Bearcat, Grumman F9F-2 Panther, Grumman F9F-8 Cougar, Grumman F11F Tiger, McDonnell Douglas F-4J Phantom II, Douglas A-4F Skyhawk, and the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18A/B/C/D Hornet.
To this will now be added the Super Hornets, which Boeing will convert at its Cecil Field facility in Jacksonville, Florida. Modifications include the removal of all weapon systems and related hardware, as well as the installation of an oil tank for the smoke-generation system, fuel systems to enable the fighter to fly inverted for extended periods of time, civilian-compatible navigation equipment, and cameras. In addition, the aircraft's center of gravity will be shifted to make the airframe more suitable for aerobatics, but the trademark blue and yellow paint scheme won't be added until the completion of flight testing.
“The Super Hornet is an iconic representation of excellence in naval aviation," says retired Admiral Pat Walsh, former Blue Angels pilot and vice president of the US Navy & Marine Corps Services for Boeing. "As Boeing continues to support the operational fleet of Navy Super Hornets, we are excited to see this platform enter a critical phase of its journey to joining the team."