The four Legacy Hornets are from a U.S. Marine Corps contingent deployed to Europe since June.
On Aug. 1, 2022, four U.S. Marine Corps F/A-18C, assigned to the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 323 (VMFA-323) “Death Rattlers”, from MCAS (Marine Corps Air Station) Miramar, California, landed at Aviano Air Base, Italy.
The aircraft had arrived in Europe on Jun. 8 as part of two 5-ship flights: one made a stopover in Scotland, at Glasgow Prestwick Airport, whereas the other one landed at Keflavik International Airport, Iceland. Following a two-night stay at their respective locations, the 10 Legacy Hornets flew the final leg of their ferry flight on June 10, landing at Łask Air Base, Poland.
Now, four of the F/A-18Cs have been moved to Aviano AB, Italy, where they are going to operate for a few weeks. It’s not clear whether the remaining Hornets will join them and when. Someone suggested the repositioning was carried out in response to the growing tensions between Serbia and Kosovo in the Balkans, while others simply believe the move was needed to make room to the dozen F-22 Raptors that the U.S. decided to deploy to Poland to enhance the Air Shielding along the eastern flank of NATO.
Anyway, the aircraft involved in the mini-deployment to Aviano AB are, at least for the moment, the following ones: 164703/WS-403; 165213/WS-405; 165215/WS-406; 165217/WS-412.
Interestingly, the F/A-18Cs arrived in Italy carrying four fuel tanks, the Litening pod on the centerline pylon underneath the fuselage and live AIM-120 AMRAAM and AIM-9X Sidewinder AAMs (Air-to Air Missiles).