McDonnell Douglas/Boeing F/A-18D Hornet

Last revised April 17, 2000


The F/A-18D is the two-seat version of the F/A-18C. Unlike the F/A-18B, the F/A-18D has flying controls only in the front cockpit and was intended as a two-seat night attack aircraft rather than as a two-seat trainer. The flight officer seated in the aft cockpit is provided with two stationary hand controls, one on each side of the seat, to operate the weapons systems. In addition, the moving map display is positioned higher. The F/A-18D is configured for the night attack role, with FLIR, TINS, raster HUD, and instrumentation and cockpit arrangements modified for use with night vision goggles.

The first 31 F/A-18Ds built featured improved avionics and featured AMRAAM and Infrared Maverick capability, but were not considered as being fully equipped for night-attack duties. The latest F/A-18D aircraft from Block 29 onward (like their single-seat F/A-18C cousins) have been equipped with full night-attack capability, with a Kaiser AV/AVQ-28 raster HUD, an AN/AAS-38 thermal imaging set, and color MFDs. The Kaiser AV/AVQ-28 raster HUD that presents the images provided by the thermal imaging navigation set. The F/A-18D Night Attack Hornet has a pod-mounted Hughes AN/AAR-50 thermal imaging navigation set, a Loral AN/AAS-38 Nite Hawk FLIR targeting pod, and GEC Cat's Eyes pilot's night vision goggles. The Night Attack Hornet also features two Kaiser 5in x 5in color multi-function displays (these were monochrome in previous Hornets) and a Smiths Srs 2100 color digital moving map navigation display. From January 1993 onwards, the AAS-38 pod added a laser target designator/ranger subsystem, allowing Hornets to deliver precision laser-guided weapons autonomously of an external laser source.

The prototype for the fully-capable night attack F/A-18D was created by modifying the first F/A-18D (BuNo 163434). This was flown for the first time at St Louis on May 6, 1988. The first production night attack F/A-18D (BuNo 163986, first D in Block 29) was turned over to the Navy at NATC Patuxent River, Maryland on November 1, 1989.

The primary user of the Night Attack F/A-18D is the Marine Corps. 96 examples were ordered for all-weather attack units previously operating the A-6E Intruder, plus one ex-Phantom reconnaissance unit. In addition, the F/A-18D aircraft have replaced OA-4 Skyhawks for fast-jet forward air control and have taken over some of the roles carried out by OV-10A and OV-10D Broncos.

The first Night Attack F/A-18D was delivered to VMA(AW)-121 "Green Knights" on May 11, 1990. This unit previously operated A-6 Intruders, and was redesignated VMFA(AW)-121 upon receipt of the F/A-18D. This unit took part in Operation Desert Storm, carrying out fast forward air control missions in which they sought out small, mobile targets and marked them for destruction by Harriers, Skyhawks, Intruders, Thunderbolt IIs, F-16s and other Hornets.

There is also a reconnaissance version of the two-seat F/A-18D. With the amended designation F/A-18D(RC), some 48 F/A-18D Hornets have their M61A1 cannon replaced by a pallet-mounted electro-optical suite comprising a blister-mounted IR linescan and two roll-stabilized sensor units, all of these units recording onto video tape. A datalink pod can be added to the centerline pylon for instantaneous transmission of data, but the same position can also be used for a Loral AN/UPD-8 side-looking airborne radar. The F/A-18D(RC) can be reconfigured for standard attack operations in only a few hours.

The ability to carry the Martin Marietta ATARS (Advanced Tactical Airborne Reconnaissance System) centerline pod was added starting with BuNo 164649, the first aircraft in Block 36.

The two-seat F/A-18D is used by the Marine Corps as a front-line combat aircraft, but only as a trainer or test aircraft by the Navy.

Serials of F/A-18D:

163434			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-23-MC Hornet (Lot 10)
163436			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-23-MC Hornet (Lot 10)
163441			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-23-MC Hornet (Lot 10)
163445			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-23-MC Hornet (Lot 10)
163447			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-23-MC Hornet (Lot 10)
163452			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-23-MC Hornet (Lot 10)
163454			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-23-MC Hornet (Lot 10)
163457			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-23-MC Hornet (Lot 10)
163460			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-24-MC Hornet (Lot 10)
163464			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-24-MC Hornet (Lot 10)
163468			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-24-MC Hornet (Lot 10)
163472			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-24-MC Hornet (Lot 10)
163474			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-24-MC Hornet (Lot 10)
163479			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-24-MC Hornet (Lot 10)
163482			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-24-MC Hornet (Lot 10)
163486			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-24-MC Hornet (Lot 10)
163488			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-25-MC Hornet (Lot 10)
163492			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-25-MC Hornet (Lot 10)
163497			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-25-MC Hornet (Lot 10)
163500/163501		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-25-MC Hornet (Lot 10)
163507			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-25-MC Hornet (Lot 10)
163510			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-25-MC Hornet (Lot 10)
163700			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-26-MC Hornet (Lot 11) 
163707			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-26-MC Hornet (Lot 11)
163720			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-26-MC Hornet (Lot 11) 
163734			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-27-MC Hornet (Lot 11) 
163749			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-27-MC Hornet (Lot 11) 
163763			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-28-MC Hornet (Lot 11)
163771			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-28-MC Hornet (Lot 11)
163778			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-28-MC Hornet (Lot 11) 
163986			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-29-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
				converted to NF/A-18D in 1995.
163989			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-29-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
163991			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-29-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
163994			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-29-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
163997			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-29-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164001			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-29-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164005			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-29-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164009			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-29-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164011			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-29-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164014			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-29-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164017			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-30-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164019			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-30-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164022			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-30-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164024			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-30-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164026			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-30-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164028			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-30-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164032			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-30-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164035			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-30-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164038			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-30-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164040			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-30-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164043			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-31-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164046			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-31-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164049			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-31-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164051			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-31-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164053			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-31-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164056			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-31-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164058			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-31-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164061			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-31-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164064			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-31-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164068			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-31-MC Hornet (Lot 12)
164196			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-32-MC Hornet (Lot 13)
164198			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-32-MC Hornet (Lot 13)
164203			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-32-MC Hornet (Lot 13)
164207			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-32-MC Hornet (Lot 13)
164211			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-32-MC Hornet (Lot 13)
164216			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-32-MC Hornet (Lot 13)
164219			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-32-MC Hornet (Lot 13)
164224			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-33-MC Hornet (Lot 13)
164228			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-33-MC Hornet (Lot 13)
164233			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-33-MC Hornet (Lot 13)
164237			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-33-MC Hornet (Lot 13)
164241			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-33-MC Hornet (Lot 13)
164245			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-33-MC Hornet (Lot 13)
164249			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-33-MC Hornet (Lot 13)
164254			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-34-MC Hornet (Lot 13)
164259			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-34-MC Hornet (Lot 13)
164263			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-34-MC Hornet (Lot 13)
164267			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-34-MC Hornet (Lot 13)
164272			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-34-MC Hornet (Lot 13)
164279			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-34-MC Hornet (Lot 13)
164280/164339		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C/D Hornet
				contract cancelled
164415			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-34-MC Hornet
164422			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D-34-MC Hornet
164649/164653		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Block 36 Hornet (Lot 14)
164656			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Block 36 Hornet (Lot 14)
164659			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Block 36 Hornet (Lot 14)
164662			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Block 36 Hornet (Lot 14)
164665			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Block 36 Hornet (Lot 14)
164667			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Block 36 Hornet (Lot 14)
164670			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Block 37 Hornet (Lot 14)
164672			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Block 37 Hornet (Lot 14)
164674			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Block 37 Hornet (Lot 14)
164677			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Block 37 Hornet (Lot 14)
164679			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Block 37 Hornet (Lot 14)
164683			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Block 37 Hornet (Lot 14)
164685			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Block 37 Hornet (Lot 14)
164688			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Block 37 Hornet (Lot 14)
164690			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Block 37 Hornet (Lot 14)
164692			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Block 37 Hornet (Lot 14)
164694			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Block 38 Hornet (Lot 15)
164699			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Block 38 Hornet (Lot 15)
164702			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Block 38 Hornet (Lot 15)
164705			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Block 38 Hornet (Lot 15)
164711			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Block 39 Hornet (Lot 15)
164714			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Block 39 Hornet (Lot 15)
164717			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Block 39 Hornet (Lot 15)
164723			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Block 39 Hornet (Lot 15)
164726			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Block 40 Hornet (Lot 15)
164729			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Block 40 Hornet (Lot 15)
164735			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Block 40 Hornet (Lot 15)
164738			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Block 40 Hornet (Lot 15)
164739/164740		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Block 40 Hornet
164741/164758		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C/D Hornet
				contract cancelled
164866			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Block 41 Hornet (Lot 16)
164868			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Block 41 Hornet (Lot 16)
164870			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Block 41 Hornet (Lot 16)
164872			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Block 41 Hornet (Lot 16)
164874			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Block 41 Hornet (Lot 16)
					This aircraft may be an F/A-18C, not a D.
164876			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Block 41 Hornet (Lot 16)
164878			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Block 41 Hornet (Lot 16)
164880			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Block 41 Hornet (Lot 16)
164882			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Block 41 Hornet (Lot 16)
164884			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Block 42 Hornet (Lot 16)
164886			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Block 42 Hornet (Lot 16)
164888			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Block 42 Hornet (Lot 16)
164898			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Block 43 Hornet (Lot 16)
164901			McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Block 43 Hornet (Lot 16)
165231/165242		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C/D Hornet 
				Contract cancelled.  Last 4 were to be Ds.
165409/165416		McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Hornet (Lot 20)
				c/n 1430/D140, 1434/D141, 1438/D142, 1440/D143,
				1444/D144, 1446/D145, 1450/D146, 1453/D147
165418			Boeing F/A-18D Hornet (Lot 20)
				c/n 1461/D148
165419/165420		Boeing F/A-18D Hornet
				c/n 1463/D149, 1466/D150
165421/165422		Boeing F/A-18D-52-MC Hornet
				c/n 1472/D151, 1484/D152
165423			Boeing F/A-18D-5x-MC Hornet
				c/n 1498/D153
165527/165532		Boeing F/A-18D-52-MC Hornet
				c/n 1461/Dq48, 463/D149, 1466/Dq50, 1472/D151
165680/165687		Boeing F/A-18D-52-MC Lot 21 Hornet
				Former RTAF F/A-18D-52-MC to USMC


Sources:


  1. Hornet, Robert F. Dorr, World Air Power Journal, Spring 1990, p. 38.

  2. McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Since 1920: Volume II, Rene J. Francillon, Naval Institute Press, 1990.

  3. Vespidae Varius--Recent Variations in the Hornet Family, Paul Jackson, Air International, December 1993, p. 301

  4. Air Power Analysis--Aircraft of the US Navy, World Air Power Journal, Volume 37, 1999