- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 30, 2020

The U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron — better known as the Blue Angels — this week received their first F/A-18 Super Hornet, a cutting-edge plane that will replace the older aircraft used for the past three decades.

The first Super Hornet arrived at Naval Air Station Pensacola on Monday, officials said. The Blue Angels are scheduled to fully transition to the Super Hornets by the end of the year.

“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,” said Cmdr. Brian Kesselring, commanding officer and Blue Angels flight leader.

The Blue Angels have used the original F/A-18 Hornet for 34 years. The new aircraft are capable of carrying 3,500 pounds of fuel and can move faster than the Hornet while carrying more weight, according to manufacturer Boeing.

The planes also include a new 19-inch, touch-screen display in the cockpit and a 9,000-hour frame lifespan, along with an advanced infrastructure network that boasts dramatically more computing power than its predecessors.

The Blue Angels were founded in 1946 and routinely hold air shows across the country. In April, the Blue Angels teamed up with the Thunderbirds, the Air Force’s flight demonstration squadron, for a flyover of major U.S. cities to honor health care workers and first responders battling the COVID-19 pandemic.

The next Blue Angels show is scheduled for Sept. 12 and 13 in Baltimore, according to the group’s website.

• Ben Wolfgang can be reached at bwolfgang@washingtontimes.com.

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