Boneyard Bandits: Former Aggressor Squadron F-18 Hornets Await the End

f-18-hornet-boneyard-aggressor-squadron (All images by Philippe Colin, reproduced with permission)

On the south side of the vast AMARG facility at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona, known as the Boneyard, rests a small collection of dilapidated F-18 Hornets whose faded paintwork tells of the famous military units to which they once belonged – including the United States Navy Fighter Weapons School (NFWS), better known as Topgun.

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Unlike standard fleet jets, these early F/A-18A and B model Hornets are painted in a variety of colour schemes to simulate enemy aircraft, from desert brown and green to the pale blue and grey camouflage adopted by Russian-built jets.

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Some even boast the Soviet red star insignia on their tail fins, much like the black-painted F-5 Tiger IIs in the movie Top Gun, which served as fictional MiG-28s.

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Unlike other retired F-18s, which languish under protective coatings at the Boneyard in a bid to preserve their systems, this gaggle of old Hornets appears somewhat neglected, stripped for parts and dumped on wooden trestles beneath the harsh desert sun.

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The faded airframes reflect a variety of ‘Aggressor Squadrons’, from former NFWS ‘Topgun’ jets of Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada, to the adversary training units VFC-12 and VFC-13, based at NAS Oceania in Virginia Beach and Fallon respectively.

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Now superseded by more updated Hornet models, these surplus hulks, once piloted by Topgun instructors against America’s best naval aviators in a bid to train them in air combat maneuvering and dogfighting tactics, have long since flown their last mission.

Keep Reading – check out more abandoned aircraft here.

 
 


 
 
 

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