This video of a USMC F/A-18D making an approach to land on the USS Bonhomme Richard LHD-6 is bizarre. The thing is that VMFA(AW) squadrons, who fly the USMC's missionized two-seat F/A-18Ds, don't embark on super carriers and there are a lot better places to work on your instrument approach skills. So... what the hell?
It turns out that this particular Hornet was helping calibrate and certify the Bonhomme Richard's very sensitive and jam resistant Precision Approach Landing System. The system is used on ships, air bases, and even on temporary airfields to give pilots high quality GPS and data-link based instrument landing system (ILS) information. It's so sensitive that landings can be made via-autopilot, with air traffic controllers taking over the aircraft, even during horrific environmental conditions and in a combat environment where radio emissions need to be kept at a minimum.
Apparently there weren't any Harriers or helicopters available for the test so the Hornet stood in.
Tyler Rogoway is a defense journalist and photographer who maintains the website Foxtrot Alpha for Jalopnik.com You can reach Tyler with story ideas or direct comments regarding this or any other defense topic via the email address Tyler@Jalopnik.com