Navy's F/A-18C Classic Hornet Makes Final Flight

Lt. Andrew Jalali prepares for the official final active-duty flight of the last Navy F/A-18C Hornet assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106 at Naval Air Station Oceana on Oct. 2, 2019. Aircraft number 300, assigned to VFA 106 at Cecil Field, Florida, completed it first Navy acceptance check flight Oct. 14, 1988. The aircraft has remained with the Gladiators for its entire 31 years of service. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nikita Custer)
Lt. Andrew Jalali prepares for the official final active-duty flight of the last Navy F/A-18C Hornet assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106 at Naval Air Station Oceana on Oct. 2, 2019. Aircraft number 300, assigned to VFA 106 at Cecil Field, Florida, completed it first Navy acceptance check flight Oct. 14, 1988. The aircraft has remained with the Gladiators for its entire 31 years of service. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nikita Custer)

The U.S. Navy's final F/A-18C Hornet has officially retired from active duty.

The service announced this month that its last twin-engine, multirole C model made its final flight at Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia, on Oct. 2. The 31-year-old Hornet's sunset flight included three F/A-18F Super Hornets, marking the Navy's transition, which began decades ago, to the more capable and advanced fighter.

The Hornet, tail number 300, was assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA)-106 "Gladiators" at Cecil Field, Florida, for its entire service life. The Navy accepted the aircraft on Oct. 14, 1988; the pilot for its final flight, Lt. Andrew Jalali, was also born that same year, according to a Navy news release.

The last Navy F/A-18C Hornet assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106 made its official final active-duty flight at Naval Air Station on Oct 2, 2019. Aircraft number 300, assigned to VFA 106 at Cecil Field Florida, completed it first Navy acceptance check flight Oct. 14, 1988. The aircraft has remained with the Gladiators for its entire 31 years of service. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nikita Custer)
The last Navy F/A-18C Hornet assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106 made its official final active-duty flight at Naval Air Station on Oct 2, 2019. Aircraft number 300, assigned to VFA 106 at Cecil Field Florida, completed it first Navy acceptance check flight Oct. 14, 1988. The aircraft has remained with the Gladiators for its entire 31 years of service. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nikita Custer)

The F-18 will be stripped of its usable parts, which will be repurposed elsewhere, the service said.

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The Gladiators have transferred more than "50 Hornets to various Navy Reserve and U.S. Marine aviation commands" within the last year, according to the release. VFA-106, the Navy's fleet replacement squadron on the East Coast, trains naval aviators on the F-18.

In February, the Strike Fighter Squadron 34 "Blue Blasters" of NAS Oceana marked their own final Hornet flight -- the last by a deployable squadron.

The Marine Corps, which did not acquire the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet, will continue to fly the aircraft until it is replaced by the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter. That transition will begin soon and be completed no later than 2032.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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