Battleland

“Hop Gun”

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Proud Navy pilots around the world are grimacing at this picture of one of their prized, but wounded, F-18 warbirds hitching a recent ride. Air Force loadmasters packed the dewinged Super Hornet into the cavernous belly of their C-5 cargo plane for a nearly 8,000-mile hop from Kandahar, Afghanistan, to San Diego. The plane’s brakes overheated during an emergency landing in March, starting a fire that made flight impossible. The first-ever flight of its kind will let the Navy repair the airplane for about a third of the cost of a new $65 million F-18. (Air Force — like the Navy would ever release such a pic — photo by David Carbajal)

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