The US Navy will retire its remaining front-line F/A-18A-D ‘legacy’ Hornets on February 1.
The milestone comes as the final USN Hornet squadron, VFA-34 which is based at NAS Oceania in Virginia relinquishes its jets as it prepares to transition to the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. VFA-34 was the last USN unit to complete a carrier-borne legacy Hornet combat deployment when it returned to the US last April aboard the USS Carl Vinson.
The USN will continue to operate two naval reserve squadrons of F/A-18A+ and F/A-18C/D Hornets in the fleet adversary and support roles, and the Blue Angels will retain its F/A-18C/Ds until they are replaced by F/A-18E/Fs in 2020.
Other USN Hornet and some Super Hornet squadrons have commenced their transition to the F-35C Lightning II, with the first operational cruise of the F-35C due to occur in early 2021.
The US Marine Corps will continue to operate the legacy Hornet for some years yet from land bases and as part of carrier air wings, with a number of aircraft currently receiving structural and radar upgrades to remain operationally relevant until replaced by F-35B/C Lightning IIs.