McDonnell Douglas CF-188A Hornet

The McDonnell Douglas F-18 Hornet began life as the Northrop YF-17 Cobra, which was chosen by the US Navy as a more survivable aircraft platform with two engines when compared to the YF-16. 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 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 original “legacy” Hornet as it is now known. 

During the late 1970s the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) embarked on the New Fighter Aircraft program to replace its aging fleets of CF-104 Starfighters, CF-101 Voodoos and CF-116 Freedom Fighters. In 1980 the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet was chosen, and an order was subsequently placed for 98 single-seat A models plus 40 two-seat B models.  In Canadian service, the Hornet is designated the CF-188, however it is more commonly referred to as the CF-18. The CF-18 first saw combat during the Gulf War and has since flown missions over the Balkans, Libya, and most recently over Iraq against ISIS/Daesh. Canadian Hornets have been subject to various upgrades throughout their service including receiving avionics and a more advanced radar from the later F/A-18C model. The replacement of the Canadian Hornet has been politically controversial and in 2017 18 ex-Australian Hornets were acquired to supplement the fleet.  

The RCAF CF-18 Demonstration Team last appeared at the Air Tattoo in 2018 flying a specially painted Hornet to commemorate 60 years of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and won the RIAT Chief Executive Trophy for their impressive displays. For RIAT 2024, the CF-18 Demonstration will once again be performing in the flying display at the Air Tattoo, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the RCAF. The display aircraft will be adorned in a special paint scheme for the occasion. 

Photo Credit: Paul Fiddian (RIAT Volunteer)  

On display

Role Friday Saturday Sunday
Flying Not decided Yes Yes