Hi Flo and Wuzak,
I did not say the F-18 was a bad aircraft. I said it was not as good as the incumbent aircraft, the F-14A.
The F-14A had range, payload, speed, and the ability to defend itself or attack anything in the air once it delivered the bombs.
The F-18 is very good in a dogfight, but has range and payload limitations. It is a very good aircraft, especially avionics-wise, as long as you don't need to deliver bombs 750 miles away and still get back while fighting. If you do, would rather have a working F-14A.
Yes, the F-14A had some issues. Nothing that could not be fixed, if they only DID. They didn't.
At air combat weights, the F-18 is very effective, possibly as effective as the F-14A also at air combat weights. But, the F-18 cannot deliver the bombs in the quantity or at the range of the Bombcat.
The F-14D was an altogether different story, and had absolutely superior airframe performance compared with the F-14A, especially at air combat weights. It was the first F-14 that had the engines the airframe was designed for.
Maybe the F-14 WAS ready for retirement but, if so, it should have been a better airframe that replaced it. At short range, the F-18 was as good as, but not better, than the F-14A. At long range, the F-18 was, and IS, simply not capable of replacing the F-14A or D.
The Super Hornet may well be better than the F-14A or D at short range due to superior avionics and great turn rate, but it still cannot match the F-14A or D at long range because it doesn't HAVE the range to do so with an equivalent payload at equivalent speed.
Maybe UAVs will do the trick at long range, but not F-18s unless refuelled frequently. I'd use the UAVs and keep the F-18 Super Hornets for task group defense.
Edited by GregP, 23 February 2011 - 05:29 AM.