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A bigger Hornet?


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Jul 15, 2007
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It has long struck me that the F/A-18 Hornet, capable aircraft that it is, does'nt really succeed the F4 and A7. Though it does add a somewhat transformational improvement in maintainability.

The SuperHornet gets a lot closer to being the machine. But it does still leave me with the impression that prior to this, the older and more maintenence demanding aircraft like the A6 and F14 had to soldier on.

Some of the designs shown on this forum do leave me with the impression that the US Aviation Industry was reaching for such a successor and one at least is a sort of bigger Hornet. Though in fact its quite a different aircraft, it did strike me as having the basic ingredients right.
Namely doing away with VG, mach 2+ speed and producing a mechanicaly simple airframe into which one puts a lot of easy to access systems that can be easily maintained.
Problem is 'stealth' intrudes into this process and hijacks it away from the 'simple' machine. Complexity and cost grow, and maintenence demands increase rather than decrease.
No wonder then that the USN effort to get something has been so frought with cancelation and delay, only to arrive at....a bigger Hornet.

In my interest into CVA-01 and its airwing, I've rather come to the conclusion that something as simple as improving aircraft availability is a way to get more out of less.
Brutaly, you do the same job with less aircraft in total if you can make more of them available for operations at any one time. I think this helps explain why the USN can accept a redction in numbers of aircraft per CVN.
But its also why I think the 'what if' concept of the RN opting for Hornet to succeed Phantom II and Buccaneer on a fleet of CVA-01s is not logical. What they'd want is essentialy something with longer legs than the Hornet as providing tanking to extend range eats into precious hanger and deck space, as well as fuel and pilots.

Now I hear the F35 Lightning II is showing a disturbing increase in time to change an engine and other rumours of increased maintenence hours, decreasing availability. Which has implications for the numbers needed, this has to be wieghed against any increases in performance when available.

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