Boeing delivered the first two operational F / A-18E / F Super Hornets to the US Navy.
Described by Boeing as “the most networked and viable F / A-18,” the Block III overhaul of the Super Hornet includes an advanced cockpit display system and a new auxiliary processor which the automaker says will increase the pilot’s situational awareness. This version of the Super Hornet brings two advanced technologies, Network Distributed Targeting Processor (DTP-N) and Tactical Targeting Network Technology (TTNT), to enhance the hunter’s networking potential and linkage capabilities. data. Block III units are rated for 10,000 flight hours, a substantial improvement over the 6,000 flight hours in previous revisions of the F / A-18E / F. The aircraft’s open mission system architecture can streamline and accelerate the pace of future upgrades while promoting interoperability and vendor competition. The latest revision of the Super Hornets also includes design improvements to help reduce the hunter’s radar cross section (RCS), as well as the ability to carry an infrared search and track sensor (IRST).
“We have invested in Block III technology and developed capabilities in partnership with the US Navy to meet its emerging needs,” said Jen Tebo, vice president of F / A-18 and EA-18G programs at Boeing. . “The hardware upgrades are complete. Today, we are maximizing open hardware and software and developing applications to keep Block III ahead of future threats. We give Navy pilots the tools to make the fastest, most informed decisions possible now and in the future. ”
The continued delivery of the Block III Super Hornet to the US Navy is part of Boeing’s ongoing efforts to expand the fighter’s presence in overseas markets. Switzerland chose the F-35 over the Super Hornet in July as part of a $ 6.5 billion procurement search, but the Super Hornet remains an import competitor for Canada, Finland and Germany.
The F / A-18E-F Super Hornet was designed in the late 1990s as an advanced iteration of the McDonnell Douglas F / A-18 Hornet Fighter and Attack (F / A) aircraft. The Super Hornet is larger than its Hornet predecessor, carrying around thirty-three percent more internal fuel. The hunter also benefits from greater operational range and maximum payload capacity. The Super Hornet supports a wide range of air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles, as well as guided and unguided bombs, spread across eleven impressive paypoints. With more than 550 F / A-18 Block IIs currently in service, the Super Hornet forms the backbone of the US Navy’s air wing and is expected to remain in service for decades.
Boeing won a $ 4 billion contract in 2019 to deliver seventy-eight new Super Hornets to the Navy at a rate of two fighters per month through the end of calendar year 2024. “We are thrilled. to see new production deliveries roll off the chain. in St. Louis, and look forward to continuing jet development and operational testing programs, said Captain Jason Denney, F / A-18 and EA-18G Program Office Manager. “Our F / A-18 team continue to test, refine and improve the program, ensuring that we deliver the deadliest, most reliable and durable fighter aircraft to meet the needs of the fleet.” Boeing further plans to upgrade all current Navy Block II Super Hornet models to the Block III standard through the mid-2030s.
Mark Episkopos is a national security reporter for the National interest.