The US Navy has grounded 104 F/A-18A-D ‘classic’ Hornets after airframe cracks were discovered during an inspection.
The grounding affects 77 Hornets currently in flight status, while the remainder are currently undergoing maintenance periods. Of the 77 aircraft, 28 are currently forward deployed aboard aircraft carriers or in Japan, five belong to the Blue Angels demonstration team, and 44 are in service with Fleet Replacement Squadrons.
The cracking is reported as taking place at the “aft wing shear attach fitting”, where part of a Hornet’s wing is attached to the fuselage. Hornet units have been ordered to perform a magnetic field inspection on jets included in the grounding. If they don’t find cracks, their aircraft are free to go back on unrestricted flight status, although follow-up inspections will be required every 100 hours.
It is unclear whether any RAAF or other international classic Hornet operators have been affected by this grounding.