Quote Originally Posted by American View Post
My understanding is that eyewitnesses heard nothing from the aircraft, meaning both engines were out. Also heard this from a Navy buddy. So they were piloting a stone. They could have done nothing at all at that point. Had they only lost a single engine they would have flown back to base.
Yeah, had to be a dual flameout. The article mentions "catastrophic mechanical malfunction," my wild-ass-guess is an uncontained engine failure in which the shrapnel damaged the other engine. A typical jet engine is designed to try and contain turbine blades that detach (and they tend to do it violently), but it's not always successful and I'm not sure if fighter engines have the same setup. An F/A-18's engines are very close together, one engine coming apart could easily damage the other. The flight controls are hydraulic, and the hydraulic pressure comes from the engines as well. A dual engine failure would cause a loss of hydraulic pressure, making aircraft control extremely difficult. There's probably a backup system, but at low speed and altitude with no engines, there may not be time to activate it.

The above, as mentioned, is completely speculative.