Seen from the bow of the USS Enterpise (CVN-65), this flight line of Hornets. Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 86 Sidewinders transferred from the legacy Hornet, like this one seen on the picture, to F/A-18E Super Hornet in 2011.
New refueling old... the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet refuels an S-3B Viking overhead the USS Enterprise (CVN-65) during operations in the Persian Gulf. The Super Hornet replaced the Viking in this role from 2007 onwards. In the near future, the refueling task will be transferred to the Boeing MQ-25 Stingray, an unmanned aerial system (UAS) that will deploy with a Carrier Air Wing. This relieves the Super Hornet a bit from their busy multi-role task.
Within several Carrier Air Wings, the US Marine Corps embedded some F/A-18C Hornet squadrons. Within Carrier Air Wing ONE in 2007 this was Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 251 Thunderbolts. This baby Hornet roars off the deck of the USS Enterprise (CVN-65) during Operation Iraqi Freedom. So close with this incredible speed... a challenge to photograph... this one was made with 1/2000 sec, F/4,0, ISO 320, with only 50mm.
The cat launch... you have to see it (and feel it)! Especially from deck level near one of the four steam catapults of an American super carrier. The steam pressure builds up and pushes an average aircraft in just two seconds from 0 mph to some 150 mph (240 km/u) in 310 feet (94 m) with up to 3.5g's (recalculating this acceleration compared to an average car, that would be something as an acceleration from 0 mph to 60 mph (100km/u) in 0,8 sec!
The squadron commanders aircraft on the cat of the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The ship was sailing in the Persian Gulf and operations continued 24/7 with multiple launches and recoveries during the day. This baby Hornet was launched during first light.
The very first F/A-18F cruise took place on board the USS Nimitz (CVN-68) in 2003. Together with sister squadron VFA-14 Tophatters (operating the F/A-18E), VFA-41 Black Aces flew numbers of missions from the Nimitz in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. This F/A-18F of the Black Aces is being prepped for the launch and is just lowering its folded wings.
A surprise and completely contrasting with the grey mass on board the USS Nimitz (CVN-68) was this Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 97 "Warhawks" F/A-18A Hornet. One of the Warhawks Hornets went broke during the Operation Iraqi Freedom deployment, so a replacement aircraft was flown in, and this appeared to be a former US Navy adversary aircraft that served the Naval Strike Air Warfare Center (NSAWC, Top Gun) from NAS Fallon (NV).