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Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet upgrades

sferrin

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Triton said:
I was hoping that the Navy might acquire the Boeing F/A-18H King Hornet along with the F-35C. ;)
Whoever came up with "King Stallion" clearly didn't think it through. ;D
 

fightingirish

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sferrin

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I'll give it 3.2 seconds before this pic shows up on Foxtrotalpha or the like claiming it's part of the "Silent Hornet" stealth upgrade (or should be).
 

kagemusha

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http://greenfleet.dodlive.mil/files/2015/03/Win15_F_A-18_Exhaust_Nozzle_Chevrons.pdf

Preliminary tests results indicate no jet noise reduction during afterburner operations and
marginal improvement at military power. The data collected are still under analysis.
However,there appears to be evidence that the flexible characteristics of the Ox-Ox material
is allowing the VEN seals to bend away from the exhaust plume negating more rapid mixing
in the shear layer between the jet plume and the ambient air and jet noise reduction.
:-\
 

bobbymike

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http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/2015/05/06/boeing-kuwait-super-hornet-strike-fighter-fa-18-dassault-rafale-eurofighter-typhoon-navy-state/70906542/?hootPostID=294091e15260f4202638b10d268f4aac

Super Hornets to Kuwait??
 

Grey Havoc

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They may be counting their chickens before they're hatched.
 

kaiserd

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bobbymike said:
http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/2015/05/06/boeing-kuwait-super-hornet-strike-fighter-fa-18-dassault-rafale-eurofighter-typhoon-navy-state/70906542/?hootPostID=294091e15260f4202638b10d268f4aac

Super Hornets to Kuwait??
Apparently not my good man....

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-09-11/eurofighter-ends-order-drought-as-kuwait-buys-28-typhoon-jets-iefwi8ih


Appears that even given some additional Growlers the Super Hornet production won't continue into the next decade.
Probably a fair judgement on an aircraft the US Navy badly needed at a point in time (failure of the Avenger II, end of the Tomcat) but was only ever just about "good-enough".
 

kaiserd

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I'm not looking to rubbish the Super Hornet; its relatively problem free development and availability helped save the US Navy air arm from a real mess of their own making.

However at best it remains a package with excellent avionics but somewhat sub-optimal performance.
Not looking to turn this into a F-35 discussion but much of the criticisms leveled at that aircraft re: kinetic performance are at least as valid for the Super Hornet (in which it is inferior to the classic Hornet, and greatly so to a Typhoon, or a Flanker derivative).

Also (at least in theory, we'll see how quickly it happens & how much it costs) if when types like the Typhoon and Rafale "catch up" to the Super Hornets avionics then any perceived advantages are likely to melt away (perhaps unfairly).

These are the factors that may have seen off any Kuwait deal.

If I was looking for the most cost-effective fighter-bomber to deliver JDAMs and fire AMRAAMs (and I was determined not worry too much about claims of Flankers, PAK-FAs and Chinese stealth fighters filling the sky) the latest F16s still appears to be more "bang-for-the-buck" while the Gripen E may well be so in the future.
 

bring_it_on

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Triton said:
LowObservable said:
I wouldn't write it off that fast.
What do you foresee when you gaze into the crystal ball? The United States Navy buying Advanced Super Hornet?
They'll keep on buying and/or 'getting' F-18E/F's or EA-18G's till at least the F-35C IOC's. Thats at least 2 potential annual orders beyond FY16.
 

Triton

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"Boeing Offers New, Rebuilt, Upgraded Super Hornets To U.S. Navy"
Oct 13, 2015 Bill Sweetman | Aviation Week & Space Technology

Source:
http://aviationweek.com/defense/boeing-offers-new-rebuilt-upgraded-super-hornets-us-navy

Boeing is offering the U.S. Navy a plan that includes continued long-term production of the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet to alleviate a major projected shortfall in the service’s strike-fighter numbers and keep the force capable until a replacement is fielded, in the mid-2030s or later.

The Navy’s oldest Super Hornet fleet will reach its 6,000-hr. design lifetime in 2017. The rest of the fleet will follow at approximately the rate they were acquired—around 40 per year—but the Navy can afford 20 Lockheed Martin F-35C Joint Strike Fighters each year, at most, and may buy fewer than that.

To fill this gap, Boeing is inspecting high-time Super Hornets in support of a service-life extension program (SLEP) that would extend the fighter’s life to 9,000 hr. But Navy commander for aviation Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker said in August that maintaining the force through a SLEP alone is “not an inconsequential challenge.” If no new F/A-18s are built, rebuilt Super Hornets could account for 60% of the strike-fighter force by 2030, Navy documents show. Industry officials say that SLEP will not be enough: “It helps,” says one, “but it doesn’t get you there.”

The answer is a “holistic, integrated solution” combining SLEP, new production and upgrades, according to Dan Gillian, Boeing’s F/A-18E/F and EA-18G programs vice president.

Boeing’s plan—which does not envisage cuts to the F-35C buy—would continue new production well into the next decade. SLEP and new production create opportunities to insert upgrades into the fleet while increasing the payback period for the initial investment. The company is no longer using the Advanced Super Hornet name but instead is briefing the Navy on an “enhanced Hornet flightpath,” with a menu of possible upgrades including conformal fuel tanks, an improved engine and a widescreen cockpit.

The company is in the process of slowing production down to two aircraft per month, the level at which it can maintain current prices. Current orders will keep the line open until 2017, but Congress’s final markup adds another 12 Super Hornets in the 2016 budget. Boeing is in “good discussions” with another Super Hornet export customer, Gillian says. Other industry sources say a 24-30-aircraft deal with Kuwait—a split buy with Eurofighter for Typhoons, a deal announced in September—is close to being finalized.

Those orders would sustain production through 2019, Gillian says. Boeing is still in competition in Denmark, planning bids in Belgium and Finland and would be in a strong position if Canada opens its requirement to competition after the Oct. 19 federal election.

With the planned Super Hornet SLEP, Boeing and the Navy are hoping to avoid the problems the service has found with the F/A-18A-D “Classic” Hornets. About half the Navy/Marine Classic inventory is in “out of reporting” status today, either because they are in the Navy’s depots (at Jacksonville, Florida, or North Island near San Diego) or out of hours, waiting for the SLEP.

The SLEP has overloaded a depot system that was never designed to cope with it, Boeing says, but another major issue is corrosion, which differs from aircraft to aircraft and is often invisible until they are inducted into SLEP. The depot then needs to order specific parts while the aircraft occupies a line position.

The plan Boeing intends to offer the Navy expands capacity by establishing a separate contractor-operated SLEP line, with NAS Cecil Field near Jacksonville—where Boeing already performs high-flight-hour inspections—as a likely location. Northrop Grumman, which builds the center body section where many repairs are concentrated, would be involved.

But with the high rate of SLEPs—and each taking about a year—life extension alone will not fill the gap. The Navy has a notional strike-fighter force of 40 squadrons—four for each of 10 carrier air wings. The service is short of fighters today, a Boeing executive says, but the problem is masked because the Navy is short one carrier until the new USS Gerald R. Ford is commissioned, and other carriers are taking longer than usual to complete their routine overhauls. As the carrier fleet recovers, the shortage will become more apparent. Add-on Super Hornet buys since the early 2010s have alleviated the shortfall, Boeing says, but not prevented it.

The problem has been exacerbated by the 2010-11 slip in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program and by delays in the F-35C ramp-up, the latest in the fiscal 2016 budget proposal. This cut 16-20 aircraft from the fiscal 2016-20 Future Years Defense Program and set a peak buy of 12 aircraft in 2020.

Filling the fighter gap with more F-35s—costing 80% more to buy and operate than the F/A-18, according to Boeing and government numbers—is unlikely to be an option as long as budgets are limited. The Navy may cap F-35C buys at as few as 12 per year in the 2020s, against a planned 20, according to internal documents. Shoemaker confirmed in late August that “budget numbers may force us to a number between 12 and 20.”

Navy aviation has been the bill-payer for other Navy department procurement accounts, one executive says. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has ring-fenced shipbuilding accounts, and the Marines have protected their F-35B and Bell Boeing V-22 buys. In the fiscal 2016 budget the administration sent to Congress, non-Marine aircraft buys were at a record-low 25 units, although Congress has increased that number.

Other palliatives have been proposed, including the greater use of live, virtual, constructive training and the Magic Carpet landing guidance system (expected to reduce the number of carrier-landing training sorties), but Boeing analysis shows they will not provide sufficient early relief to make a large dent in the problem.
 

SpudmanWP

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That is like claiming victim-hood for a self-inflicted injury...
 

sferrin

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SpudmanWP said:
That is like claiming victim-hood for a self-inflicted injury...
These days that's the American way.
 

Mark Nankivil

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Under the sequestration umbrella, far higher usage rates for existing equipment than planned and the delayed IOC for the F-35, it would be stupid for Boeing NOT to throw out the idea of new builds, rebuilds and upgrades. It was done during/post Vietnam with rebuilds of the F-8 and the F-4 to bridge the gap until funds for new airframes were available to replace them. Maybe, just maybe, someone higher up will see this as a viable option vs. running out of aircraft.


Enjoy the Day! Mark
 

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Mark Nankivil said:
Under the sequestration umbrella, far higher usage rates for existing equipment than planned and the delayed IOC for the F-35, it would be stupid for Boeing NOT to throw out the idea of new builds, rebuilds and upgrades. It was done during/post Vietnam with rebuilds of the F-8 and the F-4 to bridge the gap until funds for new airframes were available to replace them. Maybe, just maybe, someone higher up will see this as a viable option vs. running out of aircraft.


Enjoy the Day! Mark
Not to mention the growing fly-away costs of new-build warfighters. For example, it literally makes me sick about the posted cost of a single LRSB - approx 600 million! -SP
 

marauder2048

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"Project MAGIC CARPET: Advanced Controls and Displays for Precision Carrier Landings" by James W. Denham Jr.
54th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting (2016)

Note: the USS Bush is a 3 arresting wire ship vs. 4 arresting wires for the rest of the Nimitz class.
 

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bobbymike

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Steve Pace said:
Mark Nankivil said:
Under the sequestration umbrella, far higher usage rates for existing equipment than planned and the delayed IOC for the F-35, it would be stupid for Boeing NOT to throw out the idea of new builds, rebuilds and upgrades. It was done during/post Vietnam with rebuilds of the F-8 and the F-4 to bridge the gap until funds for new airframes were available to replace them. Maybe, just maybe, someone higher up will see this as a viable option vs. running out of aircraft.


Enjoy the Day! Mark
Not to mention the growing fly-away costs of new-build warfighters. For example, it literally makes me sick about the posted cost of a single LRSB - approx 600 million! -SP
Steve what would be the total cost of having Super Hornets drop 60,000 of precision guided munitions on a target 4000 miles away as compared to a single LRS-B?
 

bring_it_on

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Steve Pace said:
Mark Nankivil said:
Under the sequestration umbrella, far higher usage rates for existing equipment than planned and the delayed IOC for the F-35, it would be stupid for Boeing NOT to throw out the idea of new builds, rebuilds and upgrades. It was done during/post Vietnam with rebuilds of the F-8 and the F-4 to bridge the gap until funds for new airframes were available to replace them. Maybe, just maybe, someone higher up will see this as a viable option vs. running out of aircraft.


Enjoy the Day! Mark
Not to mention the growing fly-away costs of new-build warfighters. For example, it literally makes me sick about the posted cost of a single LRSB - approx 600 million! -SP
Why does an APUC of $600 million make you sick? Do you think it is excessive when compared to a comparable number for say the B-1 which isn't going to be as capable or as survivable? IMHO At that APUC, the LRS-B is extremely cost-effective for what it is supposed to provide. Even a new build 777 X would run north of $300 million with discounts so to get a penetrating, stealth bomber, with all its bells and whistles for twice that, is actually a really good deal. Unless you want to convert 767's for strike, you are hardly going to get something cheaper that can take over at least parts of the legacy bomber missions.

To put the price of the LRS-B in perspective, the Air Force released information comparing the development and production costs of the B-1A/B and the B-2 with the LRS-B.

In inflation-adjusted Fiscal 2016 dollars, the B-1A/B programs required $19.3 billion in development money, producing 100 aircraft at a flyaway unit cost of $410 million each.

The B-2 program—for which a production capability of 132 aircraft was built but only 21 were bought—cost $37.2 billion in development, with a $1.5 billion unit cost.
 

sferrin

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Steve Pace said:
Mark Nankivil said:
Under the sequestration umbrella, far higher usage rates for existing equipment than planned and the delayed IOC for the F-35, it would be stupid for Boeing NOT to throw out the idea of new builds, rebuilds and upgrades. It was done during/post Vietnam with rebuilds of the F-8 and the F-4 to bridge the gap until funds for new airframes were available to replace them. Maybe, just maybe, someone higher up will see this as a viable option vs. running out of aircraft.


Enjoy the Day! Mark
Not to mention the growing fly-away costs of new-build warfighters. For example, it literally makes me sick about the posted cost of a single LRSB - approx 600 million! -SP
Why? And what would you do instead? It's a tool we need. It's like if the mechanic told you you needed a new transmission. Sure, the cost might make you sick, but what are you going to do? Not fix your transmission?
 

fightingirish

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James Drew said:
Boeing resumes Advanced Super Hornet push as US Navy considers fleet size

11 MAY, 2016 BY: JAMES DREW WASHINGTON DC
Boeing Defense has “matured its thinking” about the Advanced Super Hornet concept that it launched in 2013 and flight tested, revealing a scaled-back configuration this week with fewer stealth features and perhaps a greater chance of being picked up by the US Navy.
The new design, which would be mostly common between Boeing’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler warplanes, is a mix of new capabilities and upgrades like the centreline fuel tank-mounted infrared search and track (IRST21) sensor, integrated defensive electronic countermeasures (IDECM) Block IV, active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and next-generation jammer that are already being introduced as programmes of records.

Upgrades that have not yet been adopted by the Pentagon include an enhanced engine, conformal fuel tanks and an open architecture cockpit with a 48cm (19in) wide-area display.

The proposal comes ahead of the Navy League Sea-Air-Space exposition in Washington DC next week, and amid discussions within the Pentagon about how many more Super Hornets and Growlers the navy actually needs beyond the 568 F/A-18s and 160 EA-18Gs that have already been ordered.
[...]
From the article in the magazine:
[...]In terms of differences between the original Advanced Super Hornet proposal – which included low-observable enhancements like an enclosed weapons pod – and that presented on 11 May, Boeing’s vice-president of F/A-18 and EA-18G programmes Dan Gillian says “the biggest difference is maturation of thought”. [...]
Sources:
Link: www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/boeing-resumes-advanced-super-hornet-push-as-us-navy-425221/
Twitter: twitter.com/JamesDrewNews
Magazine: Flight International, 17-23 May 2016, page 9
 

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bobbymike

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http://www.businessinsider.com/fa-18-super-hornet-assembly-2016-7

Great video makes you re-appreciate the incredible complexity of these amazing aircraft.
 

bobbymike

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http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2016/12/national-interest-analysis-is-that.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+blogspot%2Fadvancednano+%28nextbigfuture%29&utm_content=FaceBook
 

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That is some Grade-A BS Analysis going on there. :eek:
 

fightingirish

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Notice the new "stealthy" IRST window on the center pod.
Source: https://twitter.com/laraseligman/status/831261666365042688
 

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sferrin

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Isn't a stealthy window on a friggin' POD a bit like the proverbial, "lipstick on a pig"?
 

TomS

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I'd assume the flat windows aren't for stealth but just for better optical performance. They're basically relocating the IRST that was in the chin "scab" of the ASH into a fuel tank, sort of a Super Hornet equivalent to the F-15's TALON HATE pod.
 

_Del_

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Making a very expensive drop tank, and one that may be mission critical to hold on to depending on the mission. Never really understood this. Should have stuffed it in the Fast packs.
 

Triton

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The concept is now named F/A-18XT.

The XT is the Advanced Super Hornet, or the Block III fighter jet concept for the Navy, a Boeing spokesman confirmed to Military.com.

“While Boeing demonstrated advanced Super Hornet capabilities in flight in 2013, the package of upgrades has evolved to best complement F-35, EA-18G and E-2D as they will be operating together in the air wing well into the 2040s,” Boeing said in a description of the XT/Block III aircraft.

Boeing developed the Block III jet concept to “address the strike fighter shortfall as well as to ensure the air wing has the capabilities needed to win in the 2020s and beyond,” the description said.

The new variant will feature an enhanced network capability to allow large amounts of data on and off the airplane, which would increase the ability to receive targeting information from aircraft like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, EA-18G Growler and the E-2D Hawkeye, according to Boeing.


Source:
https://www.dodbuzz.com/2017/02/17/trump-order-fa-18xt-super-hornets/?ESRC=dodbuzz.sm
 

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Boeing’s Block III Super Hornet ‘High End’ Complement To F-35: Stackley

It’s not a “high/low mix,” Stackley told reporters yesterday. “That’s too Air Force.” (The term “high/low mix” originally referred to the Air Force’s combination of twin-engine F-15s and single-engine F-16s). In particular, he said, “we’re looking at a Block III F-18. It’s fairly high-end. It doesn’t have all the stealth characteristics of a fifth-gen fighter, all the advanced capabilities of an F-35, but it’s an extremely capable aircraft.”
 

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This current "Block III" or F/A-18XT or whatever you call it doesn't seem that impressive to me. No improved engines and no IRST that isn't on a drop-tank.

I'm torn between wanting Boeing to have the work so Lockheed doesn't have a monopoly on fighter production but I'm also left thinking that we have enough F/A-18s and that the F-35C will do just about everything better than it.
 

Triton

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"Boeing, Lockheed debate F-35C capability gaps"
06 April, 2017 SOURCE: Flightglobal.com BY: Stephen Trimble Washington DC

Source:
https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/boeing-lockheed-debate-f-35c-capability-gaps-435965/

Compared to a Lockheed Martin F-35C, a Block III Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet will be able to detect and track stealth aircraft at long range by their heat emissions and carry a full load of external weapons for significantly longer distances, says Boeing programme manager Dan Gillian.

By filling these two claimed capability gaps, Boeing believes it can preserve the F/A-18E/Fs presence on aircraft carrier decks well into the 2040s and extend a once-threatened production line in St. Louis, Missouri, far into the 2020s.

Although US president Donald Trump once tweeted that he had ordered Boeing to offer a Super Hornet upgrade that would be “comparable” to the stealthy F-35C, the Chicago-based manufacturer prefers to use the term “complimentary”.

“We’ve designed the Block 3 Super Hornet to be viable in the future in the high-end fight just like the navy’s planning to use it as complimentary with F-35, [EA-18G] Growler and [Northrop Grumman E-2D,” Gillian says.

The Block III Super Hornet, like the Block II, will come equipped with IRST21, a centreline pod with an infrared telescope.

In making such claims, Gillian calls into question direct statements made by his competitor, particularly in regard to the air-to-air infrared search and track (IRST) capability of the F-35C.

Lockheed advertises the electro-optical targeting system on all F-35s is designed with air-to-air IRST modes, although it also used to track ground targets.

When asked about the F-35’s EOTS sensor, Gillian quickly replied that the system is for “medium-range air-to-ground.” He declined to comment directly about Lockheed’s claims that it can perform air-to-air tracking as well. .

As for the F-35, Lockheed vice-president for business development Jack Crisler defends the IRST capability of EOTS, though doesn’t offer specifics.

“We have an an IRST capability,” he says. “There will be some Block 4 capability added to that.”

He also questions the relevance of the Super Hornet’s range with a full load of weapons under-wing.

“If you’re loaded up with bombs like that,” he asks, “are you going to be able to go into an [area denied] environment?”
 
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