The U.S. Navy retired its last operational “Legacy Hornets” on Feb. 1, 2019, however, several F/A-18A+, C and D remain in service with both the U.S. Marine Corps and Navy squadrons, including VFC-12 from NAS Oceana and VFA-204 from NAS New Orleans Joint Reserve Base, the Blue Angels (that are transitioning to the Super Hornets) and the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center (NAWDC).
NAWDC, which is based at NAS Fallon, Nevada, “is the center of excellence for naval aviation training and tactics development. NAWDC provides service to aircrews, squadrons and air wings throughout the United States Navy through flight training, academic instructional classes, and direct operational and intelligence support. The command consists of more than 120 officers, 140 enlisted and 50 contract personnel. NAWDC flies and maintains F/A-18C/D Hornets, F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, E/A-18G Growlers, F-16 Fighting Falcons and MH-60S Seahawk helicopters.”
Interestingly, among the aircraft operated by NAWDC for their advanced combat warfare courses (including the 13-week “Topgun” course), there is also a “Legacy Hornet” (BuNo 164678/46 red) that was painted a dark grey paint job clearly inspired by the Russian Sukhoi Su-30SM Flanker color scheme.
The photos posted by theaviationist.com show the NAWDC F/A-18C departing NAS Forth Worth Joint Reserve Base on Feb. 5, 2019. Another shot of the F/A-18C BuNo 164678 at NAS Fort Worth JRB on Feb. 5, 2019. The aircraft sports the same color, same white radome and same white stripes on the tails as the Russian Flanker-derivative 4++ Gen aircraft.
U.S. Aggressors and Adversary jets sport liveries replicating the paint schemes, markings and insignias of their near-peer adversaries, so that pilots in training who come within visual range of these adversary jets get the same sight they would see if they were engaging an actual threat.
The Su-30SM is a special variant of the thrust-vectoring Su-30MKI and MKM produced by the Irkut Corporation for the Russian Air Force. It’s a 4+ Generation twin-engine, two-seat super maneuverable multi-role aircraft equipped with improved avionics, Bars-R radar and a wide-angle HUD (Head Up Display). It has had its combat debut in the air war in Syria, where it mainly flew in air-to-air configuration, performing CAPs (Combat Air Patrols), providing some support to the strike packages going after the ground targets or escorting Tu-16 Blackjack and Tu-95 Bear bombers launching cruise missiles.