It will be used as teaching material in the Basic Air Academy

The withdrawal in León of an EF-18 Spanish fighter of the 46th Wing that flew with the US Marines

The older Spanish EF-18 Hornet fighters are nearing the end of their operational lives. One of them has retired last week.

A video shows the process of removing an engine from a Spanish EF-18M Hornet fighter
A Spanish Air Force mechanic explains the red ribbons of 'Remove before flight'

The Spanish Air Force reported yesterday the last flight of the EF-18 C.15-84 / 46-12, one of the twelve F/A-18As purchased by Spain in the 1990s and that they were received in two batches : The first six arrived on December 28, 1995, and the second six arrived between August and November 1996. The C.15-48 belonged to the second batch. Arrived in Spain on August 27, 1996, as published by Defensa magazine that same year.

Specifically, the C.15-48 is an F/A-18A-16-MC, with serial number 162465 and construction number 320/A265. There is somewhat confusing information about this plane, but I found an old website that states that those F/A-18As bought by Spain in the 1990s came from AMARC, the huge aircraft graveyard at Davis-Monthan AFB, where they were stored after being retired from service in the US Navy and Marines.

Some sources say that the C.15-48 belonged to the US Navy, but I found this photo his published by Blowgun on a Japanese website, when the Spanish fighter today served in the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122 (VMFA-122), a unit that received its first F/A-18As on January 22, 1986. The photo was taken at the Atsugi Naval Base in Japan on May 22, 1988.

According to the Spanish Air Force, the last flight of the C.15-48 was on July 6, bound for the Basic Air Academy (ABA) in León, the town of La Virgen del Camino. The aircraft has completed its operational life, and now it will be used as "teaching material to increase the capacity and quality of practices and improve the training of MER and ELC specialty students at the non-commissioned officer scale".

"Upon arrival, a large group of ABA mechanics and gunsmiths with experience in C.15 collaborated in the reception work and preparation of this aircraft", says the Air Force. "In particular, second lieutenant Alonso, professor at the ABA of the Aeromechanical module, close to being transferred to the reserve, and a veteran of the C.15 with 25 years of experience in this material in their destinations in Wing 15 and Wing 12, received the C.15-84 in the military platform of the aerodrome".

The Spanish Air Force has informed that this aircraft will be used for "load and weapon configuration practices, maintenance practices, activities in line and towing, practices with engines and auxiliary systems, practices of avionics, communications and navigation, practices in hydraulic systems and flight controls, cabin safety and use of the necessary AGE documentation and equipment."

Thousands of people will remember this plane, since it was at the Torrejón de Ardoz Air Base on October 11, 2014, at the festival organized by the Spanish Air Force to celebrate its 75th anniversary. He was the protagonist of numerous photos, including some that you can see here: I took them that day.

The EF-18 is the fighter that has served the Air Force for the longest time, far exceeding the years of service of other very long-lived models such as the F-86 or the Buchón. The first to be withdrawn from service will be the EF-18A+ of Ala 46, based in Gando (Gran Canaria) that they will be replaced by 20 Eurofighters (16 single-seaters and 4 two-seaters ), as announced in June of last year.


Photos: Ejército del Aire / Blowgun / Contando Estrelas.

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