The Navy held a sundown ceremony on Friday for its last operational F-18 Hornet squadron, with the “Blue Blasters” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 34 taking their last flight over Naval Air Station Oceana before transitioning to newer jets.
The Navy has flown the Hornet since 1978, with the service first deploying the F-18A/B Hornet in 1983 and the upgraded F-18C/D model in 1987, according to Naval Air Systems Command. The 40-year-old platform has worked alongside the larger F/A-18E/F Super Hornet since 1999.
Now, in a sign of the times, as the naval aviation community looks to a future carrier air wing with the Super Hornet serving alongside the F-35C Joint Strike Fighter, the last operational legacy squadron will finally begin its transition from the one-seater F/A-18C to the F/A-18E.
“The Hornet is known as many things,” Cmdr. William Mathis, commanding officer of VFA-34, said during the ceremony. “Legacy, highly reliable, multi-role attack fighter… but to us, she will always be an old friend. The Hornet will continue to serve with the Marine Corps and Navy support units, but for the operational Navy, it is time to say goodbye. So from the men and women who flew and maintained the legendary F-18 Hornet, we say thank you for your service and job well done.”