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It is very visible in the picture above that the external stores and pylons to mount them on F-18 Super Hornets are canted outward. I do not believe the legacy Hornets had their pylons mounted this way, so I wonder why it was changed on the Rhinos. From an aerodynamics perspective, it seems to be counterproductive as this would cause a great deal more drag, then having the pylons and stores aligned with the relative wind. Is there some sort of structural advantage to it? Does it improve performance when maneuvering or something similar?

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Why were the external stores pylons on the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet canted outward?

For the same reason why the engines of a jetliner are slightly canted outward i.e. to follow the local airflow which is bent due to the presence of the wing and of the fuselage (source):

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I suppose that this also helps in widening the safe-separation envelope of the weapons.

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  • $\begingroup$ Possibly. However, there are some other complications here. That may well be beneficial on a high subsonic, high aspect ratio wing typical of jetliners, but may not necessarily be true for a low aspect ratio trapezoidal platform wing typically used on combat aircraft. There may also be other issues associated with i.e. missile exhaust ingestion by the engines or separation issues with freefall ordinance, potentially colliding with the fuselage or tailplane, etc. $\endgroup$ Mar 19 at 14:13
  • $\begingroup$ The picture in the answer regards exactly a low aspect ratio swept wing like the one of the F-18. Unfortunately I couldn't find any better picture but the main idea is the same i.e. weapons are mainly pointing in the same direction as the airflow under the wing. Safe-separation has been also dealt with in my answer. $\endgroup$
    – sophit
    Mar 19 at 14:20

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