- Oct 9, 2009
- Reaction score
The U.S. Navy already has all the Super Hornets it originally intended to buy, but new threats and force requirements could prompt it to buy as many as 120 additional F/A-18E/Fs while transitioning to Boeing’s Block 3 model beyond fiscal 2019.
On the F/A-18 side, the Navy has decided to keep buying Super Hornets alongside the F-35C to meet an immediate need for greater numbers of strike fighters. The service’s program of record was 563 F/A-18 E/F aircraft, but now Boeing sees opportunities for significant follow-on orders. All aircraft delivered after fiscal 2019, for domestic and international customers, will be Block 3 versions.
Kuwait has been approved to buy “up to 40” F/A-18E/Fs, and Canada is considering an “interim fleet” of about 18 aircraft to bolster its outdated CF-18 Hornets. The Canadian deal could fall through, depending on how hard Boeing pushes its trade dispute with Canada over government subsidies to Montreal-based Bombardier in the commercial aircraft market. The Super Hornet is also being promoted to India and Finland. Boeing recently lost to Lockheed’s F-35 in Denmark.
Larry Burt, Boeing’s director of global sales and marketing for global strike programs, says near-term opportunities would take F/A-18 production into the mid-2020s. The company needs to build about 24 Super Hornets per year for production to remain viable.
As different as the Block 3 version of the Super Hornet is from its predecessors, Boeing is already looking at capabilities for Block 4.
“We’re not trying to be the F-35; you don’t need a fifth-gen for all missions,” he says. However, he adds that it is easier to evolve and enhance the F/A-18 and F-15 airframes than low-observable platforms like the F-35.
“You could keep evolving the mission systems, sensors and capability of the Super Hornet and maybe eventually put a new wrapper on it,” Burt notes.
The Growler is a story of “incremental innovation” for Boeing. The Navy has almost doubled its original program of record to about 160 from 88.
The service is now moving forward with planned upgrades that will keep the aircraft relevant into the 2040s. The centerpiece of the “Advanced Growler” is Raytheon’s Next-Generation Jammer, which passed a critical design review in April. Complementary features are improvements to the Growler’s integrated ALQ-218 radar warning, electronic support and electronic intelligence systems, which also are produced by Northrop.
Boeing says it is still in contract negotiations with the U.S. Navy to pull all of the planned Growler upgrades into a single service-life upgrade program, which would include an extension of the aircraft’s structural service life to 9,000 from 6,000 hr. The airframer also is pushing the GE F414 Enhanced Engine for the Growler and Super Hornet, which would provide 18% more power.
America's F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fleet, the backbone of the Navy’s fighter force, is getting new fuel tanks, as you can see in the Boeing artist's depiction above. The tanks are designed to allow the plane to fly and fight farther than ever before. It's a move that is in large part driven by a desire to stop Chinese long-range missiles that could target aircraft carriers, destroying them before they can threaten American flat-tops.
b]It's a move that is in large part driven by a desire to stop Chinese long-range missiles that could target aircraft carriers, destroying them before they can threaten American flat-tops[/b].
Foo Fighter said:bobbymike said:
I took some time to read the comments below that article and found them to be, well, shall we say interesting and leave it at that. Wow, they should have gone to confused.com
With four capacity weapons stations available on the Super Hornet, the SM-6 Dual I SAM could be modified to serve as a long-range air to air missile,
President Donald Trump was ridiculed on Twitter after pronouncing during a visit to Boeing’s St. Louis facility that the company’s new F/A-18 Super Hornet will be equipped with the “latest and the greatest stealth, and a lot of things on that plane that people don’t even know about.”
But it turns out Trump was on to something. Boeing is about to kick off an exhaustive effort to transition the U.S. Navy’s carrier air wing to the “Block III” Super Hornet, a next-generation version of the strike fighter complete with new sensors, extended range, a more powerful computer and, yes, enhanced stealth coating.
These changes will allow the Super Hornet to fly alongside the Lockheed Martin F-35C carrier variant as the backbone of the Navy’s carrier air wing into the 2040s and beyond, says Dan Gillian, Boeing F/A-18 and EA-18 program manager.
Block III Super Hornet will get enhanced stealth coating
New aircraft will begin rolling off the production line in 2020
Trump previewed the new and improved fighter during a March 14 visit to the St. Louis facility, which has been building F/A-18s, first the A-D Hornet and later the E/F Super Hornet, since 1978.
Gillian confirms that an improved low-observable (LO) coating will be one of five key characteristics of the Block III Super Hornet. The fighter is already “a very stealth airplane today”—he says, declining to elaborate—but there are new coatings engineers can apply on different surfaces of the aircraft to make it even more survivable, he says.
WASHINGTON — Boeing is expecting an important delivery this week: the arrival of the first Super Hornet slated to undergo a service life extension at the company’s production line in St. Louis, Missouri.
The work will kick off a decade long “service life modification” effort that will increase the lifespan of the U.S. Navy’s F/A-18E/F aircraft from 6,000 to 9,000 flight hours, but also transform them into the newest Block III configuration, said Dan Gillian, Boeing’s program manager for the Super Hornet and Growler.
The SLM effort, coupled with future Super Hornet procurement spelled out in the fiscal 2019 budget, has given the F/A-18E/F program a second life. Earlier this decade, it was thought that Super Hornet production could end as early as 2016 or 2017.
Now the situation has changed entirely.
Boxman said:What does the propane tank represent?
Of course!!! Even worse, I have a Blue Rhino tank hooked up to my grill and didn't even give it a thought. Thanks.TomS said:
One of Germany's biggest aerospace employee unions has warned the country's government that it risks jeopardising the entire European defence industry if it selects a US-built fighter to replace the Luftwaffe's Panavia Tornado fleet.www.flightglobal.com