Super Hornet is still alive and stronger than ever

Boeing is offering the Super Hornet Block III in Finland, Switzerland, Germany, Kuwait, India and Canada.

Boeing Super Hornet Block III.

Like the best fourth-generation combat aircraft, Boeing’s Super Hornet is now experiencing its second youth. The agreements finalized by the US aerospace giant with the US Navy to produce 78 new Super Hornet Block III aircraft and upgrade the current fleet to the new standard have confirmed the confidence that the Navy has in the type and keeps the production lines active for another 15 years.

The Block III brings together a range of new capabilities and upgrades that makes the aircraft a considerable advance over its predecessors, not least of which is an airframe life extension from 6,000 to 10,000 hours. It provides for the addition of conformal fuel tanks (CFTs) that add around 120 nm more range. CFTs are to be part of Block III new production from the outset, as is an advanced cockpit station with a 10- by 19-inch wide-area touchscreen display. Satellite communications are also installed, along with an advanced tactical datalink. A long-wave infrared search and track sensor is added to permit passive engagements and to augment the e-scan radar.

Boeing is currently offering the advanced Super Hornet to six countries to meet a total requirement of over 350 aircraft. Three of these competitions are taking place in Europe and have been launched by Finland, Switzerland and Germany. Elsewhere the Super Hornet is competing in Kuwait, India and Canada.

Although the Super Hornet has struggled a lot to win the hearts of aviation enthusiasts as it has had the hard task of replacing the legendary F-14 Tomcat, it boasts features superior to the latter.

During our last visit to the USS Bush aircraft carrier, Commanding Officer CAPT Will Pennington who has more than 3,500 flight hours in the F-14 and FA-18 fighter jets, told us about the Super Hornet’s great capabilities.

“It’s fantastic to fly the Super Hornet, the F-14 was big, fast, carried a lot of fuel, had a great range and was very useful, but the F-18 is more relaible, easy and flexible; it is more ergonomic and has the GPS map,” he said.

The last international customer to have chosen the Super Hornet is Kuwait which in June 2018 signed a USD 1.5 billion contract to buy 28 aircraft.

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Images: Boeing

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