Leading edge devices, normal flaps, dog teeth, strakes. Why does the F/A-18 have so many lift assisting devices?enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ All those devices are aerodynamic devices. Why do you think they are "lift supplementing?" In my opinion all parts of a well designed airplane supplement lift, except for ballast and cargo. $\endgroup$ Jan 30 at 3:52
  • $\begingroup$ @AnonymousPhysicist well the F/A-18 has more than other planes or fighter jets. The F-22 for example doesn’t have strakes. $\endgroup$
    – Wyatt
    Jan 30 at 3:54
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    $\begingroup$ @Wyatt the F-22 enjoys longer runways lol. $\endgroup$ Jan 31 at 18:30

3 Answers 3


The leading edge strake extension is there to solve a handling qualities problem the airframe had at high angle of attack without it.

Not only does the aircraft need to fly at high speeds (which requires high wing loading -- bad for landing) and fly very slowly -- to land on an aircraft carrier (which would want low wing loading) -- it is also a fighter that needs to be able to maneuver aggressively. This means high CLmax and preferably low drag at high lift during maneuvers.

The F22 has thrust vectoring to help with extreme maneuvers without aerodynamic aids. It also has a stealth requirement that forces a much cleaner design. You should compare the YF-17 to the YF-16 and then compare the F-18 to the aircraft it replaced (including the F-4).

  • $\begingroup$ F-22 is also not a carrier aircraft, which requirement distorts every design significantly. $\endgroup$
    – fectin
    Jan 31 at 0:08
  • $\begingroup$ True, but the YF-17 was not designed as a carrier aircraft either, but it has some (but not all) of the features asked about. The F/A-18 A-C has a few more, the F/A-18-E,F gains even more. $\endgroup$ Jan 31 at 0:29
  • $\begingroup$ Doesn't it also have foldable wings? That surely must have an impact too $\endgroup$
    – PlasmaHH
    Jan 31 at 8:41
  • $\begingroup$ It does -- and they certainly add weight. The foldable wings can be done cleanly in terms of aerodynamics -- though the break in the leading edge of the E/F appears to be where the wing folds. $\endgroup$ Jan 31 at 17:18

The F/A-18 Hornet was designed to take off and land on an aircraft carrier. It also needed a very high maximum speed.

To fly very slow (to land on the deck) and very fast, different aircraft shapes are needed. The designers wanted the plane to do both, so they designed it to change shape using big flaps.

  • $\begingroup$ Oh because of carrier landings? Makes sense, thanks. $\endgroup$
    – Wyatt
    Jan 30 at 3:51
  • $\begingroup$ "The designers wanted the plane to do both" without the weight + complexity (including cost) of swing wings. $\endgroup$
    – RonJohn
    Jan 31 at 20:41
  • $\begingroup$ @RonJohn It has folding wings for carrier operations. I am not sure anyone has invented a plane with both folding and swinging wings. That would be heavy. $\endgroup$ Feb 1 at 2:11
  • $\begingroup$ Swing wings also reduce deck space. $\endgroup$
    – RonJohn
    Feb 1 at 15:36

The F-18 takes off from carriers, so it's wing surface is extensively modified to provide much lift surface as possible when carrying a full set of Stores.

enter image description here

So Point is... You place stores namely munitiions and payload racks on an F-18, that doesn't help well with aerodynamics. Then add single fuel tanks, and it already lowers top speed by a considerable degree. Put x4 AMRAAM missiles on each wing and Sidewinders. At this point its already flying nightmare. enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ @quietflyer: I think it's (or its??) just a matter of the automatic spellchecker being too invasive... $\endgroup$
    – sophit
    Feb 1 at 19:45

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