The air combat experiences of US pilots during the Vietnam War led directly to the establishment of the Lightweight Fighter Programme and the eventual introduction of one of the truly great post war fighter aircraft, the superb General Dynamics (now Lockheed Martin) F-16 Fighting Falcon. Even though the aircraft still looks cutting edge and is in widespread service across the world, it seems strange to describe the F-16 as a 'classic aeroplane', but that is exactly what it is. Introduced in 1978, the F-16 is now entering its 42nd year of service and is the world's most numerous fixed-wing aircraft type in current military use. Entering service several years after the F-16, the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet was the product of the US Navy's search for a cost effective, highly agile fleet defender, which would be capable of taking on several different roles from the demanding environment of the deck of a US Navy aircraft carrier. Following in the aviation footsteps of such classic McDonnell Douglas designs as the A-4 Skyhawk, F-4 Phantom and F-15 Eagle, the Hornet has proved to be one of the world's most effective naval aircraft and as an integral part of America's mighty carrier strike groups, is never too far away from any global conflict hot spots.