Also be sure to check out our video playlist from the event!
Fans of the US Navy Blue Angels expecting to see the team perform in Super Hornets will have to wait several more years at least. The Department of Defense announced today that Boeing has been awarded a contract for the documentation and kits to convert nine single-seat F/A-18Es and two dual-seat F/A-18Fs to Blue Angel configuration. The most notable part of the announcement is that this work is not expected to be completed before December of 2021, which would seemingly prevent the team from transitioning until 2022 or more likely 2023 at the earliest.
The team currently flies aging F/A-18B/C/D “Legacy” Hornets. The old and worn down jets create many maintenance issues for the squadron and it has become more and more common to see performances limited by the number of available aircraft, even though a spare travels with the team.
Several major incidents, including the crash of Blue Angel #6 Capt. Jeff Kuss in 2016, left the team with even fewer spares than usual. Even with the coming transition, the team has continued to receive additional Hornets as the Navy retires them from frontline units in favor of Super Hornets and F-35 Lightning IIs.
The Super Hornet transition has been public knowledge for a while now, a firm timeline has never been announced to the public; likely because even the Navy didn’t have firm plans. Certain details have emerged from interviews and previous contract announcements, but many fans have drawn false conclusions from these tidbits that the transition was/is imminent; one airshow vendor went as far as to create ‘Hornet Farewell Tour’ t-shirts during the 2017 season. Today’s announcement gives some clarity to the situation, and serves as a needed reality check on rumors and speculation.
Here is the full text of the announcement:
The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Missouri, is being awarded $17,002,107 for firm-fixed-price delivery order N0001918F2654 against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N00019-16-G-0001). This order is for the retrofit documentation and kits to convert nine F/A-18E and two F/A-18F aircraft into a Blue Angel configuration in accordance with engineering change proposal 6480. Work will be performed in St. Louis, Missouri, and is expected to be completed in December 2021. Fiscal 2018 aircraft procurement (Navy) funds in the amount of $17,002,107 will be obligated at time of award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity.
The 2018 schedule for the US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet Demo Teams has been released, but there’s not a whole lot to see. Due to training and other requirements, the demo teams are severely limited in their performances this year. As of the April release, only four shows have been approved with two listed as tentative.
In a statement, Navy TAC Demo said “both VFA-106 and VFA-122 are Fleet Replacement Squadrons (FRS), sometimes referred to by the old Navy term “RAG” or Replacement Air Group. The primary mission of each squadron is to provide the fleet with trained replacement aircrew to support fleet requirements. At this time, each squadron must focus on training newly winged aviators and flight officers on employing the Super Hornet to defend our country. This mission must take priority over flying these remarkable aircraft at air shows.”
While the limited number of shows certainly is disappointing, schedules often change during the year – so for the latest updates please be sure to check our forums! More shows could be added.
2018 Appearance Schedule – US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet Demonstration Teams
April 14-15: Sun-N-Fun, Lakeland Regional Airport – Lakeland, FL
April 21-22: Thunder Over Louisville – Louisville, KY
May 5-6: Ford Lauderdale Air Show – Fort Lauderdale, FL
May 26-27: Miami Beach Air and Sea Show – Miami Beach, FL
The following shows are approved for TACDEMO participation; however, actual participation will be determined in May.
June 9-10: Thunder of Niagara, Niagara Falls ARS – Niagara Falls, NY
June 30-July 1: Battle Creek Field of Flight Air Show – Battle Creek, MI
The jet team/military demo schedules are the highlight of each annual International Council of Airshows (ICAS) convention, but the military forums and presentations also have some interesting bits of info for fans. This year the Navy forum in particular yielded some very interesting and exciting news items.
First, the F/A-18C Hornet (AKA Baby Hornet or Legacy Hornet) demos appear to be a thing of the past. All F-18 demonstrations in 2018 will be either F/A-18E or F/A-18F Super Hornets. As in the past, they will be flown by a West Coast team out of NAS Lemoore, CA and an East Coast team out of NAS Oceana, VA. The F/A-18E demos will only be flown by Lemoore crews.
Second, and maybe the biggest news of the forum; Legacy Flights might be back! The presentation includes the requirements for a show to host a Legacy Flight, and says the performance will consist of a short profile similar to that flown in the past. Legacy Flights have not been regularly performed for years now, although a Super Hornet and Corsair formation flight was arranged at the Cleveland airshow this past September. No word yet on what warbirds might be among the approved performers.
The third major takeaway from the forum is that there appears to be no limit on Navy static displays in 2018! Each year since sequestration (2013) has seen the military branches place limits on how many of their aircraft could be approved for static display at each airshow. This has gradually been lifted each year and thankfully it appears to be a nonissue in 2018; static display ramps may be a little fuller this summer!
The schedule for the F-18 demonstrations is not expected to be released for a while, but the the teams are approved for 46 airshows total. As noted, we are currently seeking some more information on these topics and will post any updates that we receive!
The United States Navy has released the 2017 schedule for the F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet demonstration teams! Their schedule does not specify which airshows are getting which type of aircraft, but we will update this post with that information when we get it.
2017 Appearance Schedule – US Navy F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet Demonstration Teams
March 11-13 – Titusville, FL (F/A-18C Hornet)
March 18-19 – Waco, TX
April 22-23 – Louisville, KY
April 29-30 – Lake City, FL
May 6-7 – Fort Lauderdale, FL
May 7-8 – Lincoln, NE
May 20-21 – North Kingstown, RI
May 20-21 – Oklahoma City, OK
May 27-28 – Miami Beach, FL
May 27-28 – Wantagh, NY Canceled on 3/24/17 June 25-26 – Huntsville, AL
July 1-2 – Traverse City, MI (F/A-18F Super Hornet)
July 15-16 – Johnson City, NY
August 12-13 – Scranton, PA
August 12-13 – Barnes ANGB/Westfield, MA
August 19-20 – Selfridge ANGB/Chesterfield Township, MI
August 23 – Atlantic City, NJ
September 2-4 – Cleveland, OH (F/A-18F Super Hornet)
September 9-10 – Sacramento, CA
September 16-17 – Virginia Beach, VA (F/A-18C Hornet and F/A-18F Super Hornet)
September 23-24 – London, ON (F/A-18F Super Hornet)
October 14-15 – Atlanta, GA
November 3-5 – Stuart, FL
VFA-122 “Flying Eagles”:
March 17-18 – Yuma, AZ
March 24-26 – Lancaster, CA
April 1-2 – Melbourne, FL
April 8-9 – Columbus, GA
April 28-30 – Lake Charles, LA
May 6-7 – McEntire ANGB, SC
May 13-14 – Pittsburgh, PA
May 20-21 – Redlands, CA
May 27-28 – Columbia, MO
June 10-11 – Scott AFB, IL
June 17-18 – Gaylord, MI
June 24-25 – Dayton, OH
July 3 – Dubuque, IA
July 8-9 – Gary, IN
July 22-23 – Great Falls, MT
July 29-30 – Fairchild AFB, WA
August 11-13 – Abbotsford, BC
September 9-10 – Wendover, UT
September 16-17 – Midland, TX
September 30-October 1 – Grand Junction, CO
October 7-8 – Minden, NV
October 21-22 – Houston, TX
Big news came from the Abbotsford International Airshow August 5, 2016 with the announcement that a Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II will be on public display at the show, which takes place on August 12th through the 14th in Abbotsford, British Columbia. The F-35 on display will be one from the 34th Fighter Squadron, 388th Fighter Wing out of Hill AFB, Utah. Alongside the Lightning II throughout the weekend will be Lockheed Martin Senior Test Pilot Billie Flynn, a former Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 Hornet pilot, to talk about the aircraft and its capabilities. This will be the first F-35 appearance in Canada.
While the F-35 is still a prospective replacement for the aging CF-18 Hornet fleet in Royal Canadian Air Force service, political support for the jet is falling. Lockheed Martin’s competitor Boeing is going to be showing off their F/A-18F Super Hornet at this year’s show as well with a company demonstration in addition to the already scheduled US Navy Super Hornet demontration. The corporate demo differs from the Navy’s routine in that the aircraft will perform to the edge of its limits while carrying a payload. The F-35 is sure to be the highlight of the ground portion while the F/A-18F will be the star of the aerial portion.
The Breitling Jet Team will be returning to perform at this year’s show along with the annual appearances by the Canadian Forces Snowbirds and CF-18 Hornet demo teams as well as the CFB Comox CH-149 Cormorant Search and Rescue demo. The show will also be welcoming the Jack Link’s Screamin’ Sasquatch Jet Waco biplane and Gary Rower in his Stearman biplane to their first appearances at Abbotsford.
The aircraft, two in total, will arrive at the Abbotsford International Airport on Thursday Aug 11. For more information on the upcoming Abbotsford International Airshow, please visit www.abbotsfordairshow.com.
When the US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet demonstration teams perform in place of the Blue Angels over the next two weekends, their performances will be dedicated to the memory of Capt. Jeff Kuss, the Blue Angel pilot who was killed in a crash last week.
The teams from VFA-106 and VFA-122 were tasked to fill in for the Blues when the team officially canceled its performances in Syracuse, NY and Dayton, OH over the next two weekends. The VFA-106 team will perform in Syracuse on June 11-12, and the VFA-122 team will perform in Dayton on June 18-19. The VFA-106 Super Hornet and Legacy Hornet aircraft, which was already scheduled to perform in Rhode Island this weekend, will even sport special ‘6’ decals to honor Capt Kuss, who flew as Blue Angel 6. Photos from the US Navy Tac Demo Facebook Page.
The addition of the Super Hornet demonstrations will help bolster the lineups of the shows and maintain the Navy’s presence at them. Each show has added other acts to their lineup since the cancellation as well. No announcements have been made as to future Blue Angel shows that may be impacted by their stand down, or possible appearances by the Hornet and Super Hornets to fill in for them.
The US Navy has released the 2016 airshow schedule for its F-18C Hornet and F/A-18F Super Hornet demonstration teams. As we’ve reported previously, the Navy is also bringing back the Tailhook Legacy Flight program that puts these modern fighters in formation with civilian-operated Navy warbirds. Will you see the Hornets in 2016? Let us know! Post on our Facebook page page and make sure you share pictures after the show!
2016 Appearance Schedule
22-24 – Langley AFB, VA (VFA-106 Hornet)
23 – Louisville, KY
7-8 – Fort Lauderdale, FL
14-15 – JB McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, NJ
21-22 – Latrobe, PA
21-22 – Shaw AFB, SC
11-12 – North Kingstown, RI (VFA-106 Hornet)
11-12 – Syracuse, NY (VFA-106 Super Hornet)
18-19 – Ocean City, MD (VFA-106 Super Hornet)
18-19 – Dayton, OH (VFA-122 Super Hornet)
24-26 – Evansville, IN (VFA-106 (Super Hornet)
25-26 – Davenport, IA (VFA-122 Super Hornet)
3 – Dubaque, IA (VFA-122 Super Hornet)
9-10 – Duluth, MN (VFA-122 Super Hornet)
15-16 – Toldeo, OH (VFA-122 Super Hornet)
25-31 – Oshkosh, WI (VFA-106 Super Hornet)
30-31 – Offutt, NE (VFA-122 Super Hornet)
5-7 – Hillsboro, OR (VFA-122 Super Hornet)
13-14 – Burlington, VT (VFA-106 Hornet)
13-14 – Abbotsford, BC (VFA-122 Super Hornet)
17 – Atlantic City, NJ (VFA-106 Super Hornet)
19-21 – Chicago, IL (VFA-106 Hornet)
19-21 – Ypsilanti, MI (VFA-122 Super Hornet)
27-28 – McChord,WA (VFA-122 Super Hornet)
3-4 – New Windsor, NY (VFA-106 Hornet)
3-4 – Toronto, CA (VFA-106 SuperHornet)
10-11 – NAS Oceana, VA (VFA-106 Super and Hornet Demos)
10-11 – Fort Wayne, In (VFA-122 Super Hornet)
16-18 – Coshocton, OH (VFA-106 Super Hornet)
16-18 – Waco, TX (VFA-122 Super Hornet)
24-25 – Santa Rosa, CA (VFA-122 Super Hornet)
1-2 – Owensboro, KY (VFA-106 Hornet)
15-16 – Fort Worth, TX (VFA-122 Super Hornet)
21-23 – Anderson, SC (VFA-106 Super Hornet)
22-23 – Huntington Beach, CA (VFA-122 Super Hornet)
29-30 – Rome, GA (VFA-106 Super Hornet)
5-6 – Stuart, FL (VFA-106 Hornet)
5-6 – Homestead ARB, FL (VFA-106 Super Hornet)
12-1 – Nellis AFB,NV (VFA-122 Super Hornet)
It’s that time again! Fans and pilots alike are starting to get ready for the 2016 season. The Navy is as well! In order to qualify for certification, the US Navy demo teams must fly a certain number of practice flights before their first public performance. Many of these practice flights take place at their home base.
Therefore, starting February 22nd and running through March 4th, residents in Virginia Beach, VA and around NAS Oceana will hear louder than normal jet noise and see some low level flying by the F-18 Hornet and Super Hornet demo teams. These flights will take place on Mondays and Wednesdays with Friday as a backup date.
The practice demos will begin around 3:30pm and run for 45 minutes until around 4:15. If previous practice demos we’ve seen are any indication, both teams will fly. Low clouds and rainy conditions could cancel or reschedule demos, but those are the typical flight times.
The Hornet demo teams also fly at the Dare County Bombing Range in Dare, NC and in a simulator before taking to the skies over Oceana.
Jet team schedules are not the only exciting news for fans to come out of the annual ICAS convention this week. Representatives from the US Navy and the US Air Force both gave presentations outlining their services plans for supporting airshows in 2016, and there is some very good news for fans eager to see more military involvement. Here are the important details from the Navy; we’ll cover the USAF in detail tomorrow.
F-18 Tactical Demonstrations
Both F/A-18C Hornet and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet tactical demonstration teams will be participating in 46 (up from 20 in 2015) airshows in 2016. As in years past, the East Coast team will come from VFA-106 at NAS Oceana in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The West Coast team will be from VFA-122 at NAS Lemoore in California. The TACDEMO teams are intending to perform only at airshows where the Blue Angels are not performing, in an effort to maximize the visibility of the Navy recruiting efforts. That said, we fully expect the VFA-106 teams to perform alongside the Blue Angels at their home show at Oceana, as they have for years. No word is given on when the TACDEMO schedules can be expected.
Not to be forgotten is the previously announced news that the Tailhook Legacy Flights, which pair Navy warbirds with current fighters, will be returning in 2016.
The US Navy Leap Frogs parachute team is also authorized to perform at up to 27 shows this year, although it is unclear if their many High School and sporting event appearances will count against that total. There is no word yet on when their schedule can be expected.
The other major news in the presentation is that restrictions on Navy static displays are being lifted in 2016. Previously they had been severely limited due to the sequestration budget cuts. Only 10 civilian shows were approved for statics in 2015. Happily, static displays will be unrestricted starting with this season!
These are all very exciting developments, and certainly indicate that military participation can be expected to rise in the near future. Let’s hope the good news continues!
Stay tuned for more developments and the performance schedules as we get them.