ABOUT THE SUPER HORNET
The Boeing F/A-18E and F/A-18F Super Hornet are twin-engine, carrier-capable, multirole fighter aircraft variants based on the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet. The F/A-18E single-seat and F/A-18F tandem-seat variants are larger and more advanced derivatives of the F/A-18C and D Hornet.
The Super Hornet has an internal 20 mm M61 rotary cannon and can carry air-to-air missiles and air-to-surface weapons. Additional fuel can be carried in up to five external fuel tanks and the aircraft can be configured as an airborne tanker by adding an external air-to-air refueling system.
Designed and initially produced by McDonnell Douglas, the Super Hornet first flew in 1995. Low-rate production began in early 1997 with full-rate production starting in September 1997, after the merger of McDonnell Douglas and Boeing the previous month. The Super Hornet entered fleet service with the United States Navy in 1999, replacing the Grumman F-14 Tomcat, which was retired in 2006; the Super Hornet has served alongside the original Hornet.
The Gladiators of Strike Fighter Squadron 106 is the Navy’s East Coast Fleet Replacement Squadron; the squadron’ mission is to train Navy F/A-18E & F/A-18F Super Hornet replacement Pilots and Weapon Systems Officers (WSOs) to support fleet commitments. Every six weeks, a class of between 8–12 newly winged Navy pilots and Naval Flight Officers begins the 9-month training course in which they learn the basics of air-to-air and air-to-ground missions, culminating in day/night carrier qualification and subsequent assignment to fleet Super Hornet squadrons.
The Gladiators are also well known for the airshow TACDEMO Team. The team flies the F/A-18F to show sites in the Eastern United States. Instructors of the squadron fly the aircraft, and serve on a one year schedule. The team demonstrates maneuvers used in training and combat flights. Typically two F/A-18s are sent to the show site, one being the demonstration aircraft and the other being a spare in case the demo jet suffered a mechanical problem.