Boeing has delivered the first F/A-18 Super Hornet test aircraft for the Navy’s Blue Angels demonstration squadron.
Right now, its undergoing test flights and evaluations at Naval Air Station Patuxent in Maryland.
After that, it will arrive in Jacksonville, where it will be converted for the Blue Angels' use at Boeing’s Cecil Field facility.
The modifications will include the addition of an oil tank to generate smoke, fuel systems that enable the aircraft to fly inverted for extended periods of time, civilian-compatible navigation equipment, cameras and adjustments for the aircraft's center of gravity.
In an email to WJCT News, aircraft manufacturer Boeing said it expects to deliver a total of 11 Super Hornets to the squadron this year.
The F/A-18 Super Hornet made its first flight in November 1995, according to Boeing, which says it is also used by 10 U.S. Navy Carrier Air Wings and the Royal Australian Air Force.
The Naval Air Station Pensacola-based Blue Angels flight exhibition team currently pilots the F/A-18A-D Hornet.
The Blue Angels have a long history with Jacksonville. In addition to bringing their aerial acrobatics to Naval Air Station Jacksonville and Jacksonville Beach for decades, the team was originally formed in Jacksonville.
The team’s first demonstration flight was held June 15, 1946, at NAS Jacksonville, according to the Angels’ history page.
Most recently, the Angels have been saluting first responders and essential workers who have continued working during the pandemic shutdown, with flights across the country.
The Angels saluted Jacksonville’s first responders and essential workers with a May 8 flyover.
Blue Angels Jacksonville Flyover Video - May 8, 2020