McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C MLU 2 Hornet (Finland): The Seventy Year Itch

Would you like to see Finnish F/A-18C in-game?
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History
The F/A-18 Hornet, entered service in 1983, proved its value as a carrier-based strike fighter throughout the 1980s. The success of F/A-18A/B continued with block upgraded version, F/A-18C/D.

Meanwhile in the late 1980s, Finnish Air Force started to look for a successor to the old, outdated J35 Draken and MiG-21 series aircrafts. The F-16, Mirage 2000-5, JAS 39 Gripen, MiG-29, F/A-18C/D Hornet was offered for consideration, and FAF chose F/A-18 Hornet. The FAF received its first Hornet in November 1995. In the following year, first Finnish-built Hornet is rolled out from Patria Finavitec’s production line. Total 57 F/A-18C and 7 F/A-18Ds were delivered, and the production ended in August 2000.

Initial Finnish designation for Hornet is F-18C/D without ‘A’ prefix, since it was delivered without air-to-ground capabilities. However the MLU 2 upgrade restored some of its A2G capability, and now Finnish Hornets are simply referred as F/A-18C/D.

The Finnish Air Force operates 62 F/A-18C/Ds as of 2023.

Design
Airframe and Engine

As an American-origin fighter jet, the F/A-18 has an uncommon design represented by large strakes and mildly swept wings. Due to this design, the Hornet is suitable for low-speed maneuvering. It is also notable for great high angle-of-attack capability, thanks to its large leading-edge-extensions (LEXs).

The Finnish F/A-18C/Ds are late production model with F404-GE-402 Enhanced Performance Engine (EPE). EPE improves flight performances by providing much higher thrust than original F404-GE-400. For example, Hornet with EPE performs 27% better than a non-EPE Hornets in transonic acceleration at 35,000 ft (10.6 km).

The major drawback of Hornet is slow acceleration in transonic regime and low top speed. It could barely exceed Mach 1 at sea level, and it cannot reach Mach 2 even at optimum altitude.

Avionics
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Specifications of AN/APG-65 Radar (basis of APG-73)

Antenna gimbal limit:

  • Azimuth: ±70°
  • Elevation: ±60°

Scale:

  • Range: 5/10/20/40/80/160 nm (9/19/37/74/150/300 km)
  • Azimuth: 20/45/90/140°

Elevation scan pattern: 1/2/4/6 bar
Beamwidth: 3.3°
Scan rate: 65°/s
Frequency: I band
Waveform: HPRF, MPRF, LPRF, Interleaved
A/A radar mode:

  • Range While Scan (SRC PD)
    - Range: ~80 nm (150 km)

    - Waveform: HPRF, MPRF, Interleaved

  • Velocity Search (SRC PDV HDN)
    - Range: ~100 nm (185 km)

    - Waveform: HPRF

  • Track While Scan (TWS PD)
    - Range: ~40 nm (74 km)

    - Max No. of target tracks: 10 (8 displayed)

    - Waveform: HPRF, MPRF, Interleaved

  • Single Target Track (TRK PD)
  • Boresight (ACM PD)
    - Range: 500 ft ~ 5 nm (0.15 ~ 9 km)

    - Scan area: 3.3° × 3.3°

  • Vertical Acquisition (ACM PD)
    - Range: 500 ft ~ 5 nm (0.15 ~ 9 km)

    - Scan area: ±5.3° in azimuth, -14° ~ +60° in elevation (10.6° × 74°)

(Raid Assessment and HUD Acquisition modes are excluded, because they are not necessary in game)

Finnish F/A-18C/Ds are equipped with AN/APG-73 radar. Compared to the original AN/APG-65, the AN/APG-73 features 7~20% longer detection range and enhanced ECCM capabilities.

Specifications of LITENING AT

Weight: 450 lb (204 kg)
Resolution: 640 × 512 pixel
Field of view (data of LITENING III):

  • NFOV: 0.77° × 0.77°
  • MFOV: 2.8° x 2.8°
  • WFOV: 18.4° × 21.1°

Field of regard (data of LITENING III):

  • Pitch: -150° ~ +45°
  • Roll: ±400°

MLU 2 Hornets could carry LITENING targeting pod on centerline station.

JHMCS symbology for F/A-18 series aircraft

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The Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS) was integrated to Finnish Hornets during first phase of the Mid-Life Upgrade, from 2006 to 2010.

Armament

Unlike original F/A-18C/Ds, Finnish Hornets lacked air-to-ground capabilities. This was because the Finland was not allowed to acquire aircraft with A2G capabilities under the Treaty of Peace with Finland in 1947. Finland Air Force even once changed its name to F-18, without ‘A’ prefix.


Eventually the Mid Life Upgrade (MLU) 2 in 2015 restored some A2G capability, makes the Hornet to be a first Finnish aircraft to drop live bombs in 70 years. The MLU 2 Hornets are capable of using AGM-154C JSOW, AGM-158 JASSM, JDAMs.

The SAAB BOL-500 dispenser is also added with the MLU 2 program. It is mounted on the both sides of SUU-63/A pylons on the station 2/8. Each dispenser stores 160 chaff/flare cartridges.

Specifications
Crew: 1
Length: 56 ft (17.07 m)
Wingspan:

  • 40.4 ft (12.31 m) w/ missile
  • 38.4 ft (11.7 m) w/o missile
  • 37.5 ft (11.43 m) w/o missile and launcher

Height: 15.3 ft (4.66 m)
Wing area: 400 sq ft (37.17 m²)
Aspect ratio: 3.52
Weights:

  • 23,000 lbs (10,433 kg) empty
  • 51,900 lbs (23,540 kg) maximum takeoff

Fuel:

  • Internal: 10,860 lb (4,925 kg)
  • External: 7,000 lb (3,175 kg) with 3× FPU-8/A fuel tanks

Powerplant: 2x F404-GE-402

  • Uninstalled intermediate thrust: 11,000 lbf (48.9 kN)
  • Uninstalled maximum thrust: 17,600 lbf (78.2 kN)
  • Installed maximum thrust at sea level:
    • @ Mach 0.8: 19,342 lbf (86 kN)
    • @ Mach 0.9: 19,310 lbf (85.9 kN)
    • @ Mach 1.0: 19,062 lbf (84.8 kN)
    • @ Mach 1.2: 17,376 lbf (77.3 kN)
  • Installed maximum thrust at 5,000 ft (1.5 km):
    • @ Mach 0.8: 17,612 lbf (78.3 kN)
    • @ Mach 0.9: 18,261 lbf (81.2 kN)
    • @ Mach 1.0: 18,907 lbf (84.1 kN)
    • @ Mach 1.2: 18,172 lbf (80.8 kN)
  • Installed maximum thrust at 20,000 ft (6.1 km):
    • @ Mach 0.8: 11,152 lbf (49.6 kN)
    • @ Mach 0.9: 12,202 lbf (54.3 kN)
    • @ Mach 1.0: 13,232 lbf (58.9 kN)
    • @ Mach 1.2: 14,982 lbf (66.6 kN)
    • @ Mach 1.4: 16,552 lbf (73.6 kN)
  • Installed maximum thrust at 40,000 ft (12.2 km):
    • @ Mach 0.8: 4,665 lbf (20.8 kN)
    • @ Mach 0.9: 5,134 lbf (22.8 kN)
    • @ Mach 1.0: 5,631 lbf (25 kN)
    • @ Mach 1.2: 6,993 lbf (31.1 kN)
    • @ Mach 1.4: 8,678 lbf (38.6 kN)
    • @ Mach 1.6: 9,740 lbf (43.3 kN)

Performances:
(Note: ‘fighter escort configuration’ is 60% internal fuel, 2× AIM-9 Sidewinder, 2× AIM-120 AMRAAM)

  • Maximum speed (fighter escort configuration):
    • @ Sea level: Mach 1.06
    • @ 35,000 ft (10.6 km): Mach 1.76
  • Design limit speed (fighter escort configuration):
    • @ Sea level: Mach 1.1
    • @ 35,000 ft (10.6 km): Mach 2.0
  • Altitude: 50,000 ft (15,250 m)
  • Sustained turn rate (fighter escort configuration):
    • @ Sea level: 19.2°/s
    • @ 15,000 ft (4.5 km): 12.3°/s
  • Instantaneous bleed rate in a turn (fighter escort configuration):
    • @ Sea level: 54 kt (100 km/h) per second
    • @ 15,000 ft (4.5 km): 62 kt (115 km/h) per second
  • Acceleration time (fighter escort configuration):
    • @ 5,000 ft (1.5 km), from Mach 0.8-1.08: 21 seconds
    • @ 20,000 ft (6.1 km), from Mach 0.8-1.2: 34.6 seconds
    • @ 35,000 ft (10.6 km), from Mach 0.8-1.2: 55.8 seconds
  • Thrust-to-weight (fighter escort configuration):
    • @ Sea level, static: 0.845
    • @ 5,000 ft (1.5 km), Mach 0.9: 0.981
    • @ 20,000 ft (6.1 km), Mach 0.9: 0.685
    • @ 35,000 ft (10.6 km), Mach 0.9: 0.385
  • Specific excess power (1 g level flight, Mach 0.9, fighter escort configuration):
    • @ 10,000 ft (3 km): 699 ft/s (213 m/s)
    • @ 20,000 ft (6.1 km): 512 ft/s (156 m/s)
    • @ 35,000 ft (10.6 km: 247 ft/s (75 m/s)
  • Maximum command limit g: -3 ~ +10g
  • Lift-off speed: 115 knot (213 km/h)
  • Approaching speed: 140 knot (260 km/h)

Armament:

  • Hardpoints: 9 total (2× wingtip, 4× under wing, 3× fuselage)
  • Gun: 1× M61A1 20 mm gun (578 rounds)
  • Air-to-air missiles:
    • AIM-9M/X Sidewinder
    • AIM-120B/C-7 AMRAAM
  • Air-to-surface missiles: AGM-158 JASSM
  • Guided bombs:
    • AGM-154C JSOW
    • GBU-31/32/38 JDAM

Avionics:

  • Radar: Hughes AN/APG-73
  • RWR: AN/ALR-67(V)3
  • EO sensors: AN/AAQ-28(V)4 LITENING AT
  • HMD: JHMCS
  • Night vision devices: Vision Systems NVCD

Countermeasures:

  • Internal: 4× AN/ALE-47 (120 total)
  • External: 4× BOL-500 (640 total)

Sources

6 Likes

Only as US premium/event/squadron.

why?
Finland has it’s own subtree on sweden.

11 Likes

Because it removes the uniqueness of the F-18 from the US tree when you copy paste it into countries that don’t deserve to have it, let alone have a need for it.

If someone wants to play an F-18, they should do so in the US tree, not in the SWEDISH tree which unfairly has access to equipment from multiple countries (Mig-21bis, F-18s and then their own planes, this should not be a thing).

2 Likes

so you are saying that we should remove all M4 tanks from everyother country but US (not the unique variants made by single country) etc. planes/tanks just BC nation can have eastern and western vehicles?

and need? currently there isn’t single good multirole aircraft on toptier swedish techtree.

11 Likes

No, that is not what I am saying. France used M4 Shermans and modified them to their own needs (M4 SA50), same with Britain (Firefly), Israel (M50) etc. Even the non-modified variants were still used by countries which have a tech tree in-game, eg. Italy has a Firefly which they did not create, but they still used the vehicle so they should have it.

What I AM saying is that vehicles that weren’t used by a nation (that is represented in-game by a tech tree) should NOT go to that country. For example, Sweden NEVER used any kind of Mig-21, and for that reason, it should be removed, as Finland is NOT represented with a whole tech tree. Britain should NOT have a T-90 as they never used it.

This would reduce copy paste by a large amount, and sub trees would have a purpose of giving UNIQUE vehicles to the country they are added to, instead of giving the same country multiple copied vehicles which have no place there - for example, Sweden can have an F-18, Mig-21bis and Gripen all in the same tree, or Britain could have a Gripen, F-18, Tornados etc. in the same tree, this would be completely unfair to players who grinded other tech trees to see the same vehicle in another country that had nothing to do with it.

1 Like

I agree that the copy paste is bad but still think the Finnish line should have the F-18 as last of the line.

TBH I think the swedish techtree sould be “Nordic” as to fill the gaps in the air techtree and some ground vehicles aswel, at this moment the techtree has some major problems when you get into jets. While the toptier suffers as it has no air to ground ornaments.
(yes you can take AJS37 Viggen with 4 TV guided missiles or 2 TV missiles with countermeasures)

7 Likes

Suggestion passed to the developers for consideration.

2 Likes