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McDONNELL DOUGLAS F/A-18 HORNET EXCEEDS 2 MILLION FLIGHT HOURS

 ST. LOUIS, Sept. 30 /PRNewswire/ -- The F/A-18 Hornet has recorded more than 2 million flight hours in only 10 years of fleet operation. A U.S. Marine Corps F/A-18, flying over Bosnia-Herzegovina, pushed the Hornet program over the mark on Sept. 17, 1993.
 Marine Corps Majors Michael Sawyers of Barstow, Calif., and Steve Nedderson of Ft. Smith, Ark., made the milestone Hornet flight over Bosnia in a two-seat F/A-18D that bears the number 401. Their squadron, VMFA(AW)-533, is currently deployed at Aviano Air Base, Italy, in support of Operation Deny Flight. Eight Hornets from 533, home-based at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C., are flying cover for U.N. troops on the ground and ensuring no hostile aircraft fly over Bosnia- Herzegovina.
 The 2 million flight hours include the flight times of all McDonnell Douglas F/A-18s in service with the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the air forces of Canada, Australia, Spain and Kuwait. The Hornet community has been averaging about 220,000 flight hours per year.
 "These aircraft (F/A-18s) haven't been flying long," says Sawyers, who was in the front seat of 401. "They accumulated the hours at a faster rate because they're up all the time. It's the way they're built."
 The Hornet reached the 2-million flight hour mark significantly faster than the Navy's other current tactical aircraft -- the A-6 and the F-14. The A-6, which began operations with the Navy in 1963, passed 2 million flight hours 23 years later in 1986 and has logged 2.6 million flight hours to date. The F-14, which began operations in 1973, has logged 1.65 million flight hours in 20 years of service.
 Nedderson, the maintenance officer for 533, points out that F/A-18s can fly a lot because their components are highly reliable and make for easy maintenance. "In some cases, repairing a component is as simple as switching out a box," he says.
 Nedderson's squadron transitioned to the F/A-18 from the A-6 in October 1992. Since then, 533 has been "putting a lot of hours into the airplanes, we're getting a lot of hours back out of them and they're staying up for us," he says.
 "The airplane talks to you and it tells you what's wrong with it ... and where the malfunctions are. Then you can isolate it down to a single component and then change that one component and generally fix the whole system."
 Systems and components are easy to get to and repair, Nedderson points out. "Most basic repairs don't take more than a few minutes," he adds.
 High reliability and maintainability were integral to the original design concept of the Hornet, says Larry Lemke, vice president -- general manager of the F/A-18 Program at McDonnell Douglas. "The Hornet was designed from the start to be reliable, easy to maintain, safe and supportable," Lemke says. "That is the type of aircraft the Navy wanted and the type of aircraft it has in the F/A-18. That foundation has served the Hornet well and is the reason for its superb performance over the past 10 years."
 The F/A-18 is demonstrating three times better reliability at half the maintenance of other Navy and Marine Corps tactical aircraft, Lemke points out. That is paying dividends in low life-cycle and operating costs for the Hornet fleet, he adds.
 Sawyers and Nedderson say the F/A-18 is well-suited for the job it has to do over Bosnia.
 "The F/A-18 is a multirole, multimission fighter that does anything I ask it to. It turns very well and drops ordnance accurately. It can fight with anything," Sawyers says.
 The Hornet's effectiveness in both air-to-air and air-to-ground combat makes it ideal for the Deny Flight mission, Sawyers adds.
 Nedderson praises the F/A-18's night flying capability. "With its combination of sensors and night-vision goggles, the F/A-18 is optimized for flying at night. It doesn't turn night into day, but it seems like you're flying at day."
 McDonnell Douglas has delivered more than 1,190 F/A-18s worldwide since the aircraft's first flight in November 1978. The U.S. Marine Corps ushered the F/A-18 into operational service in January 1983. Today, the Navy and Marine Corps have more than 870 Hornets. They operate 40 tactical F/A-18 squadrons from 12 aircraft carriers and 25 air stations.
 The F/A-18, produced in both single and two-seat versions, is a high performance aircraft designed to operate from carriers and on land. The twin-engined strike fighter replaced the Navy's F-4 and A-7 and the Marine Corps' A-6, OV-10, F-4 and RF-4.
 Armament includes up to 13,700 pounds of external ordnance. The Hornet can carry Sidewinder and Sparrow missiles, various bombs (including laser-guided bombs), and has a 20-mm gun internally mounted in the nose.
 The Hornet can fly Mach 1.8 and beyond and can reach an altitude of about 50,000 feet.
 The Hornet will remain a key element of naval aviation well into the 21st century, as the United States proceeds with development of the upgraded F/A-18E/F.
 Employees at more than 2,000 U.S. companies in 43 states help produce this top of the line combat aircraft. Prime contractor McDonnell Douglas performs final assembly of the Hornet in St. Louis, where nearly 7,000 people are associated with the program. Principal subcontractors are Northrop, which builds the center and aft fuselage, engine manufacturer General Electric and Hughes Aircraft, which supplies the radar.
 -0- 9/30/93
 /CONTACT: Daryl Stephenson, McDonnell Douglas Aerospace, 314-232-8203/


CO: McDonnell Douglas Aerospace ST: Missouri IN: ARO SU:

JB-EH -- LA034 -- 7426 09/30/93 15:38 EDT
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Date:Sep 30, 1993
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