Making the first flight in November 1978, the F/A-18 and its two-place derivative have undergone most of their development testing at the Naval Air Test Center, under the new single-site testing concept. While much attention, both internal and external, was focused on development problems, these have largely been typical of those in any new program with their resolution being part of the development process. For the most part, these have occurred in the basic aircraft hardware rather than in the digital electronic systems.
The initial production airplanes, the first training F/A-18s have been in service with VFA-125 since November 1980. The new capabilities introduced by the F/A-18 have met with an enthusiastic response among operating personnel.
Current F/A-18s in the inventory included F/A-18As, F/A-18Bs, F/A-18Cs and F/A-18Ds. The Hornet is a critical element in the plan to recapitalize the Navy and Marine Corps aviation capability. When the A-6 Intruders and F-14 Tomcats have left the inventory, the F/A-18 Hornet alone will represent the Navy's carrier-based strike fighter capability.
Upgrades and modifications continue to be made and developed for the F/A-18C/D aircraft. These upgrades include radar, advance targeting FLIR, countermeasures dispenser system, standoff land attack missile system, and other electronic systems.