US VMFA 323 FA 18 165208 KNYL 17Mar23 Marcel J. van Bielder file info 1150 640Upgrade Programme USMC Hornets

The United States Marine Corps (USMC) will continue to operate the venerable F/A-18C/D Hornet for a number of years due to delays with the fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II. Consequently, the USMC is upgrading one-third of its Hornet fleet to keep it operational until 2030 or later.

Hornet pilot training will continue with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 323 Death Rattlers ('WS-4xx') at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar (CA).

On 29 September 2023, the USMC held a "sundown ceremony" at Miramar for its Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron (VMFAT) 101 Sharpshooters ('SH-xxx'), the unit dedicated to training pilots to fly the F/A-18 Hornet.

Around 180 Hornets are still active in the USMC inventory. About one-third, or 60 aircraft, are being modernised to remain operational until 2030 or beyond. According to a report from Flight Global this week, the USMC has reached the halfway point in this upgrade programme. The ageing aircraft are receiving enhanced sensor and communications capabilities, bringing their performance closer to that of the newer F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and increasing commonality between the types.

The Hornets will be equipped with Raytheon Technologies' APG-79 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, already in service on US Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft. Additionally, the older F/A-18s will receive new Integrated Defensive Electronic Countermeasures, GPS anti-jamming capabilities, and other avionics hardware and software improvements, the aviation trade publication further noted.

Credit photo: Marcel J. van Bielder (Scramble Archive)

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