Navy Beats Air Force with First Legacy Hornet in Su-57 Livery, Russia is Confused, Troll Party Ensues.
Photos taken by an amateur aviation photographer in the U.S. emerged on Facebook early this week of a new U.S. Navy F/A-18D Hornet two-seat aggressor aircraft painted in a unique pixelated aggressor color scheme that mimics Russia’s new, advanced Sukhoi Su-57 fighter. The photos were initially posted privately by the Facebook user who took them. From there, the Russian social media outlet LiveJournal found them, likely in a Facebook group where they may also have been shared by the original photographer.
Once the Russian blogosphere got hold of the hapless amateur photographer’s photos, the party really started. Now the photos are appearing in Russian Facebook groups and pages and in the Russian media- and the Russians are loving them- even if they are a little confused.
The Americans may get the last laugh though. The initial Russian media article says the Boeing F/A-18D in the unique Su-57 pixelated aggressor color scheme, an aircraft used by the U.S. Navy, is a new, yet to be unveiled, aggressor soon to be finished by the famous 64th Aggressor Squadron of the 57th Fighter Wing at Nellis AFB. But the aircraft soon to be unveiled by the Nellis Aggressors is an F-16. And while the Air Force may feel a little slighted by the Navy being the first on the block to have their own pixelated Su-57 lookalike, at least the Americans- both Navy and Air Force- can share some satisfaction in their projects lighting up the Russian social media space with an amusing misattribution.
The aircraft shown in the photos that made their way onto to Russia’s LiveJournal is a U.S. Navy F/A-18D “Red 47” belonging to Fighter Squadron Composite Twelve (VFC-12), the “Fighting Omars” at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, Virginia. It is a relatively new paint scheme in the unit that normally operates aircraft in liveries inspired by the Russian aircraft. The amateur photographer’s photos first appeared on Thursday, May 16, 2019. They were all over Russian media in less than 24 hours.
At the same time, the USAF 57th Wing Commander, who administers one of the very best social media pages in the world for an air arm unit, posted photos of progress on their new F-16 for the 64th Aggressor Squadron, a unit that belongs to the 57th Wing parent unit at Nellis AFB.
Perhaps even more interestingly (as we previously reported), the paint scheme for the 64th Aggressor Squadron F-16 was selected by an innovative and unprecedented social media campaign of popular voting as administered by the 57th Wing Commander. This was a significant coup for the unit and for the Air Force overall, as it elevated awareness not only of the unit’s unique and interesting mission but has now become a viable recruiting asset for the U.S. Air Force overall. It also demonstrates that, not only do the 64th Aggressors dominate the air combat battlespace over the Nellis test ranges, they also maintain superiority in the social media battlespace.
The unveiling for the new pixelated 64th Aggressors F-16 was slated for today, May 17, but instead the Facebook page for the unit shared new photos of the aircraft entering its final stages of completion. We could see the finished product as early as Saturday, May 18. That may confuse the Russians even more!