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The McDonnell Douglas F-18 Hornet began life as the Northrop YF-17 Cobra which lost the US Air Force's lightweight fighter competition to what would eventually become the ubiquitous F-16. Chosen by the US Navy as a more survivable platform with two engines, the F/A-18A Hornet entered operational service first with the US Marine Corps in 1983. The Hornet is a multi-role combat aircraft capable of conducting various missions from both the land and sea. During 1987 the Hornet was upgraded with new weapons, radar and avionics that improved the all-weather combat capability of the aircraft, these aircraft were designated the F/A-18C. The F/A-18C, now affectionately known as the "Legacy Hornet", still serves with the US Marine Corps but has now been replaced in US Navy service by the larger F/A-18E Super Hornet and the F-35C Lightning II. In addition to the USA, seven other nations have operated the Legacy Hornet including Australia and Switzerland.
Finland originally ordered 64 Hornets (57 C and 7 two-seat D models) in 1992 with deliveries commencing in 1995. All single seat C models were built in Finland and replaced the Saab Draken and MiG-21 with an advanced self-protection jammer. The aircraft have been upgraded throughout their service life and in 2012 received a substantial stand-off air to ground capability. During 2021, Finland chose to replace its Hornet fleet with the F-35A Lightning II.
The Finnish Air Force will be once again returning to RIAT 2023 with their Hornet solo flying display. The 2023 demo will be provided by Hävittäjälentolaivue 11 (Fighter Squafton 11) based at Rovaniemi in Lapland. Visitors to RIAT 2023 will be treated to one of the most highly regarded fast jet displays in Europe, which has won many flying display awards at the Air Tattoo in previous years. Photo Credit: Paul Morrison