Every aircraft that goes into service is accompanied by controversy. This was especially true for the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Super Hornet. With the longanticipated Paramount Pictures movie sequel, Top Gun: Maverick coming out in June, we noted that in the original 1986 movie, Maverick was flying the Grumman
F-14 Tomcat, but in the new sequel he is at the controls of the F-18 Super Hornet. So it made perfect sense to publish our classic feature "Battle of the Superfighters" as well as some of the passionate reader responses it generated.
In this comparison, our two experts argue that the Super Hornet was not necessarily the airplane the Navy needed for the future, and their backgrounds lend weight to their arguments. Rear Admiral Paul Gillcrist spent 33 years as a fighter pilot and wing commander and was operations commander of all Pacific Fleet fighters.
Bob Kress was an aeronautical engineer, and during his long career at Grumman, he was directly involved in the development of a wide range of fighters. He was also the engineering manager for the original design and development of the F-14 Tomcat. Their analysis makes an interesting statement when placed against the backdrop of the current ongoing war on terrorism.