The US Navy demonstration team has been flying the legacy Hornet for a long time and I was wondering why don't they use the Super Hornet? The legacy Hornet is over 30 years old and showing its age. I know there have been numerous incidents during shows where control surfaces have broken off the planes.

Why aren't they using the newer airframes? Is it the cost of upgrading? Performance concerns?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ In addition to aeroalias's excellent answer, the obvious follow-up is "why didn't they do so sooner", the answer being that they don't really need to; the Super Hornet's improvements are largely around combat avionics, payload and range on internal fuel, none of which are critical concerns for a demo squadron that flies totally clean aircraft from the nearest airbase to the show and back. $\endgroup$
    – KeithS
    Aug 12, 2016 at 17:30
  • $\begingroup$ @KeithS that would make a good answer $\endgroup$
    – ebrohman
    Aug 12, 2016 at 18:09
  • $\begingroup$ The Chinese counterparts used MIG21 derivatives well into the 21st century. When you don't need a lot of range can can cut weight by carrying minimal fuel, a lot of fighters would have much better maneuverability than in a combat situation, e.g. the Iranian F14A vs F15 story, making them capable for the job for a long time. $\endgroup$ Jun 6, 2017 at 15:55

1 Answer 1


The USN Blue Angel demonstration team is transitioning to Super Hornets. According to this press report:

“We are supporting the Navy’s plans to transition the Blue Angels to Super Hornet aircraft from classic Hornets by providing engineering for the necessary conversion modifications. ...,” Paul Guse, a spokesman for Boeing, said Thursday in an emailed statement.

The transition will take some time for carrying out the necessary modifications including...

..., installing flight auxiliary fuel pumps that can operate in sustained inverted manoeuvres and inserting an oil pump in the tail to emit blue smoke.

...among others. Also, as the aircraft performance is different (the Super Hornet is larger and heavier, for one thing), the aircrew will have to train on the new aircraft before participating in any airshows.

A lot of the weight difference may be handled by removing the combat hardware but the size and handling characteristics will require a lot of training and practice time before the super hornet can be used in the precision flying exercises used in air shows.

  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$
    – Federico
    Aug 1, 2018 at 8:52

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