Home » The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet

The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet

by Till Daisd
0 comment

The F-18 Hornet was created as the first all-weather fighter and attack aircraft for the US military. It could perform conventional strike tasks like interdiction and close air support without compromising its fighter capabilities. The platform has steadily advanced over time. The US Navy began using the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet in 1999 to replace the F-14 Tomcat.

From the 1970s through its retirement in 2006, the F-14 Tomcat, a twin-engine, two-seat fighter aircraft, was used by the U.S. Navy. It was mostly employed for fleet defense and air superiority missions. The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, which was the F/A-18 model’s second modification, was incredibly capable and adaptable for a wide variety of missions. It could execute a variety of tasks, including air superiority, fighter escort, reconnaissance, aerial refueling, suppressing air defenses, and carrying out day-and-night precise strikes.

With its merger with McDonnell Douglas in 1997, Boeing is now the manufacturer of the Super Hornet, which comes in two different versions: the single-seat F/A-18E and the dual-seat F/A-18F. Two F414-GE-400 turbofan engines that together have a thrust rating of 44,000 lbs. power the aircraft. The air inlets have been expanded to maximize airflow into the engines. The engine’s maximum speed when the afterburner is on is greater than Mach 1.8.

On July 24, 2002, Strike Fighter Squadron 115, also known as the “Eagles,” operating off of the USS Abraham Lincoln, made the F/A-18E/F its first operational use. On November 6 of the same year, the aircraft participated in its first combat mission as the squadron helped impose a “no-fly” zone over Iraq. In March 2003, the F/A-18E/F was also deployed as a part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Its effectiveness and dependability as an aircraft are widely known. The Super Hornet is a multi-role attack aircraft that can carry out numerous tasks by employing various pieces of external equipment. When used to tackle the challenges a carrier can face, its sophisticated networking capabilities enable it to do extremely specific missions, making it a valuable “FORCE MULTIPLIER”

Because of its outstanding armament capabilities, the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet has proven to be a very adaptable aircraft. consisting of two wings of supply stations and a total of eleven weaponry stations. This fighter jet can transport a variety of weaponry to accommodate different mission demands.

Air-to-air missiles:

  • AIM-9 Sidewinder
  • AIM-7 Sparrow
  • AIM-120 AMRAAM

Air-to-ground weapons:

  • AGM-84 SLAM-ER
  • Paveway Laser-Guided bombs
  • AGM-88 HARM
  • AGM-154 JSOW
  • AGM-65 Maverick
  • Harpoon Missile
  • AGM-158C LRASM
  • Free-fall Air-to-ground bombs
  • MK-80 Unguided bombs
  • JDAMS bombs
  • MK-62/63/65 Quick Strike Naval Mine

The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is equipped with an internal weapon that packs a serious punch in addition to its remarkable array of external armament. The GE M61A2 20mm Gatling-style gun uses electric firing to produce devastating firepower at a selectable rate of either 4,000 or 6,000 RPM. It is a hydraulically operated six-barreled rotary action weapon. In close air support and air-to-air combat situations, the gun’s high rate of fire makes it possible to quickly attack targets at close range.

The Navy’s carrier air wing’s mainstay since its deployment in 2001, the Block II Super Hornet contains a number of technologies that improve its capabilities. With the delivery of the last 322 E and 286 F models in April 2020, Block II aircraft production came to an end. The first pair of F/A-18 Block III test jets were delivered to the Navy for carrier testing a month later. The Navy intended to deploy the Block III Super Hornet to test and investigate novel operational concepts while Boeing created the aircraft to complement present and future air wing capabilities.

In addition to other improvements, the first Block III aircraft has a sophisticated cockpit system with a 10×19-inch touchscreen that works like a Large Tablet. This device took the role of many of the conventional cockpit buttons and knobs, allowing pilots to track and target several distant objects more precisely. Together with the Tactical Targeting Network Technology (TTNT) data link, the aircraft also features the open-architecture Distributed Targeting Processor-Networked (DTP-N), which increases the mission computer’s processing and networking capabilities.

Several characteristics of Block III Super Hornets also assist in lowering the jet’s radar signature. In addition to all of that, this program has incorporated two more modifications that were previously planned for upcoming Navy Super Hornets, namely an enhanced satellite communications system (SATCOM) and the incorporation of a podded infrared search and track (IRST) system.

The IRST is a “stealth equalizer” that gives users the capacity to passively detect and counter stealthy aircraft, like the Chengdu J-20 and Shenyang FC-31 of China and the Sukhoi Su-57 of Russia. The Navy’s top objective is extending the Super Hornet’s airframe life. While the F/A-18E/F has a 6,000-hour service life, the Strike Fighter has seen extensive use over the course of combat in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria, which has lasted almost 20 years.

Because of this, a significant number of Super Hornets have been worn out, which has decreased readiness rates and reduced the useful life of some aircraft. The airframe service life of brand-new Block III Super Hornets will be 10,000 hours. Block II Super Hornets undergoing Block III improvements will have a “per-jet” service life extension of “an additional 4,000 hours.”

Additionally, shoulder-mounted conformal fuel tanks were planned for the Block III Super Hornet. The aircraft could fly longer, go faster, and/or carry more weight if they could carry 3,500 pounds more fuel and lower drag. But, this choice has been abandoned. The hardware improvements are finished.

“Today we are maximizing the open hardware, software and developing the apps to keep Block III ahead of future threats”. Jen Tebo, Boeing’s Vice President of F/A-18 and EA-18G programs, said in the press release regarding the delivery of the first operational upgraded jets.

“We are giving Navy pilots the tools to make the fastest and most informed decisions possible now and in the future”.

USMN has learned that the Navy has quietly started work to produce its first new carrier-based fighter in almost 20 years by setting up a new program office and engaging in preliminary talks with industry. This comes after nearly ten years of fits and starts. Early measures are being taken to quickly create a new manned fighter to expand the capabilities of the carrier air wing and give the Navy’s fleet of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers new significance as part of the multibillion-dollar project to replace the Super Hornet starting in the 2030s.

The Navy established a program office for the Next Generation Air Domination plan, according to Navy Acquisition Chief James Geurts, who spoke with reporters last week.

“We’re working to outline that program and the acquisition approach and all that as we speak,” Geurts said. The Pentagon is struggling to react to a new defense policy centered on countering Russian and Chinese threats in the Indo-Pacific theater as the Naval Air Systems Command just established the NGAD program office.

The Navy officially established the Next Generation Air Dominance program office, or PMA-230, in May to launch the NGAD initiative. Capt. Al Mousseau was chosen to lead the program. Captain John Dougherty has since taken Mousseau’s place since he retired. The Super Hornet will still be essential to the Navy in the years to come, despite the move toward a new fighter plane. For the foreseeable future, the F/A-18E/F will continue to be the main strike capability from American carriers, providing a flexible and dependable platform for a variety of missions.

You may also like

Leave a Comment