The U.S. Navy’s Blue Angel flight demonstration squadron, the second oldest formal aerobatic team in the world after the Patrouille de France, received Boeing’s first F/A-18 Super Hornet test aircraft. The unarmed fighter – still not painted in the familiar blue and yellow paint – will enter the flight testing and evaluation phase at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland. By the end of 2020, Boeing expects to deliver a total of 11 aircraft for the squadron.
Boeing equipped the aircraft factory Cecil Field facility in Jacksonville, Florida, to convert F/A-18 Hornets and Super Hornets into Blue Angels standard order. The most important modifications include the installation of an oil tank for the smoke generation system, fuel systems that enable the aircraft to fly in an inverted flight position for a long time, as well as new navigation equipment and cameras. The aircraft’s center of gravity is also adjusted to perform stunts safely.
The Blue Angels have been flying Boeing aircraft or companies that have been integrated into the Group for more than 50 years, starting with the F-4J Phantom II in 1969 and then the A-4F Skyhawk. The team is currently using the F/A-18A-D Hornet.
“The Super Hornet is an iconic representation of excellence in naval aviation,” said ret. Admiral Pat Walsh, vice president of U.S. 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.“