Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 34 hosted a sundown ceremony and fly-over for the legacy F/A-18C Hornet aircraft at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, Va., Feb. 01. Naval Air Forces Atlantic announced Wednesday that the remaining single-seat, twin-engine, supersonic, all-weather, carrier-capable Hornets will take their last flight with Strike Fighter Squadron 34. Active duty service members, aviation leadership, local media and visitors were in attendance to commemorate the aircraft’s 35 years of active service in the fleet. The “Blue Blasters” are the lone Hornet squadron that has not transitioned to Boeing’s F/A-18E Super Hornet.
The F/A-18 Hornet entered operational service for the fleet in 1984. The aircraft’s first combat mission was in 1986 during Operation El Dorado Canyon and the legacy Hornet continued to serve in every major U.S. military operation including the Gulf War, Iraqi War, Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, Inherent Resolve and most recently served in 2018 from the deck of USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) with Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 34 while conducting navigation patrols in the South China Sea.
The Blue Blasters of VFA-34 were the last squadron in the Navy flying the Hornet, most recently joining USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) to conduct Freedom of Navigation patrols in the South China Sea in 2018. Blue Blasters flew the Hornets on a final combat deployment last year aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. Their deployment included participation in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise and a historic visit to Vietnam. The F/A-18C Hornet is being replaced by the F/A-18E Super Hornet, which is capable of executing the same missions as the Hornet, but with significant advancements in mission systems that will dramatically enhance its effectiveness.