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50 Objects NASL Former Blue Angels FA-18

A display of an FA-18A Hornet sits near the front gate of Naval Air Station Lemoore.

NAVAL AIR STATION LEMOORE -- The McDonnell-Douglas FA-18A Hornet on display near the main gate at Naval Air Station Lemoore hasn’t been in the air for at least two decades, but there’s more to the grounded bird than meets the eye.

Around 1992, NASL officials began a two-year search for an FA-18 to put on static display at the base. Their search led to an aircraft at Naval Air Station North Island marked with the Bureau Number 161366. The grounded jet had formerly been used by the Navy’s flight demonstration squadron the Blue Angels. It was brought to Lemoore in 1994 to be mounted on a pylon for static display.

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The jet is now used to recognize Lemoore-based strike fighter squadrons that have been awarded the coveted Battle Effectiveness Award, also known as the “Battle E” award. The winners get their command logo painted on the tail of the jet. Two squadrons earned the honor in 2013, including the Warhawks of Strike Fighter Squadron 97 and the Tophatters of Strike Fighter Squadron 14.

The Battle E award recognizes a small number of squadrons each year for superior performance in an operational environment and sustained readiness throughout the Navy’s fleet response training plan. Squadrons must be awarded four of the six types of Command Excellence Awards to earn the Battle E Award. According to the Navy, the Battle Effectiveness Award is not a qualification award or an award for mere excellence, but an award for being the best in the organization.

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