Well, it might have been a sad day for Navy fighter jocks and a proud day for Air Force cargo haulers. A Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornet became the first U.S. fighter jet ever to be flown home from war inside a cargo plane on Aug. 18.
As you can see above, the poor Super Hornet was stripped down and loaded into an Air Force C-5 Galaxy and flown from Kandahar Afghanistan to NAS North Island in San Diego, Calif., nearly six months after a rough landing left the fighter unable to fly. See, normally fighter jocks get to fly their planes to and from combat zones. Heck, even when something goes wrong with a plane the military will usually try to ferry the jet home with an experienced fighter pilot at the controls. This Super Hornet was too badly damaged for that to happen.
From an Air Force announcement:
n March, while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom, the Hornet experienced malfunctions which caused it to divert and land at Kandahar Airfield. Upon landing, the aircraft experienced hot brakes and upon stopping, both brakes were engulfed in flames. The Kandahar, Fire and Rescue extinguished the fire, but the right fuselage was severely damaged.
While not beyond repair, the jet couldn’t be flown home. So, who else are you gonna call?
“We’re willing to help any of our sister services who need it,” said Air Force Maj. Steven Hertenstein, the pilot of the C-5 who is deployed from Travis Air Force Base, Calif. “Carrying cargo is what this aircraft was designed to do, and we’re glad to be a part this.”
I’m sure the C-5 crew was pretty amused by the fact that they were carrying a hot $h*t Navy fighter back to the ‘states in their cargo deck.
The whole effort required the help of ‘units accross the base” according to the Air Force. The air service’s expeditionary RED HORSE civil engineers even had to build wooden ramps to help ease the fighter onto the C-5’s aft cargo ramp. Meanwhile, Marine aircraft technicians helped Navy officials dissemble the aircraft and prep if for its journey home. Apparently, transporting the Super Hornet home cost a third of the $65 million price tag for a new F/A-18E/F.
Uh, Fly Navy?