The Blue Angels Have Officially Received Their First F/A-18E Super Hornet

The famous flight demonstration team is set to get a total of 18 Super Hornets to replace its existing F/A-18 Hornets by the end of the year.

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The U.S. Navy's Angels' first F/A-18E Super Hornet has touched down at the unit's home base at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida. This is the first of 18 Super Hornets that are set to replace the flight demonstration team's aging legacy F/A-18 Hornets.

Navy Captain Eric Doyle, the Director of the Blue Angels Super Hornet Transition Team, flew the jet from Boeing's facilities at Cecil Field, near Jacksonville, Florida, to Pensacola on July 27, 2020. Pictures had first emerged of the aircraft, which is set to be the new Blue Angel 1, wearing the team's blue and gold colors in May.

"Acquiring our first Super Hornet is a momentous step in our inevitable transition scheduled for later this year and it required a herculean effort to get these fleet jets ready for our team," Navy Command Brian Kesselring, commanding officer and flight leader of the Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the official name of the Blue Angels, said in a statement. "We would like to especially thank the teams at Boeing, Chief of Naval Air Training Command, Naval Air Systems Command, Fleet Readiness Center Southeast, and Naval Supply Systems Command Weapons Systems Support."

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The Blue Angels' first Super Hornet sits in between the team's existing legacy F/A-18 Hornets. The existing number 1 aircraft, which this new jet is set to take the place of, is seen at the left.

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Navy Captain Eric Doyle, the Director of the Blue Angels Super Hornet Transition Team, in the green flight suit, is greeted by members of the Blue Angels after delivering the first Super Hornet to Naval Air Station Pensacola.

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Navy Command Brian Kesselring, the Blue Angels' commanding officer and the team's flight leader, at right, talks with Captain Doyle.

The Navy made the decision to transition the Blue Angels to the Super Hornet in 2018. All 18 jets for the team will be very early production models that are some of the oldest in the service's fleet. 

Beyond the new paint jobs, these aircraft will all receive special modifications in line with their new flight demonstration duties. You can read more about this conversion process and the modified routines these jets will fly in this past War Zone piece.

The Blue Angels are set to get all of the Super Hornets by the end of this year with the hope that the team will be ready to perform with them next year. They are also in the process of getting a new dedicated transport, or "Fat Albert," an ex-U.K. Royal Air Force C-130J Hercules airlifter, ready for the show season.

It remains to be seen whether the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to be a factor in the 2021 airshow season and when exactly crowds will get a chance to see the new Super Hornet-equipped Blue Angels perform for the first time. Still, the arrival of the first of these jets is an exciting moment for the team and its many fans.

Contact the author: joe@thedrive.com