Developed as the United States Military’s first all-weather fighter and attack aircraft, The F-18 Hornet could take on traditional strike applications, Including interdiction and close air, without compromising its fighter capabilities.
Over the years, the platform has been steadily improved.
In 1999, the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet entered service with the Us Navy as a replacement for the F-14 Tomcat.
The F-14 Tomcat was a twin-engine, two-seat fighter aircraft that served in the Us Navy from the 1970s until its retirement in 2006..
It was primarily used for air superiority and fleet defense missions.
A Second upgrade of the F/A-18 model, the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet was highly capable and versatile across the full range of missions.
It was capable of performing multiple roles, such as air superiority, fighter escort, reconnaissance, aerial refueling, air defense, suppression and day night precision strikes.
The Super Hornet is currently manufactured by Boeing, following its merger with Mcdonnell Douglas in 1997, and is available in two distinct versions, Which are capable of producing a combined thrust of 44,000 lbs.
To maximize airflow into the engines, the air inlets have been enlarged.
With afterburner engaged, the engines can provide a maximum speed in excess of Mach 1.8..
The first operational use of the F/A-18/E was with Strike Fighter Squadron 115, known as the “Eagles”, which was operating from the Uss Abraham Lincoln, on July 24, 2002..
The aircraft saw its first combat action on November 6 of the same year, when the squadron took part in enforcing a “no fly” zone in Iraq.
The F/A-18E/F was also deployed as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2003..
Its capability and reliability as an aircraft have been well established.
The Super Hornet is a multirole attack aircraft that can perform a variety of missions with the use of different external equipment.
Its advanced networking capabilities allow it to accomplish very specific missions, making it a valuable “FORCE MULTIPLIER” when deployed to meet the challenges a carrier might face.
The Super Hornet has proven to be a highly versatile aircraft, thanks in part to its impressive armament capabilities.
With a total of eleven weapons stations, including two wing store stations, This Fighter Jet is capable of carrying a wide range of armaments to meet various mission requirements.
In addition to its impressive range of external armament, The Super Hornet is armed with an internal weapon that packs a serious punch.
The Ge M61a2 20mm Gatling-style gun is a hydraulically-driven six-barreled rotary action weapon that uses electric firing to deliver devastating firepower at a selectable rate of either 4,000 or 6,000 RPM.
This high-rate of fire allows the gun to rapidly engage targets at short range, making it an essential tool for close air support and air-to-air combat situations.
Since its introduction in 2001, the Block Ii Super Hornet, which incorporates a number of technologies that enhance its capabilities, has earned a reputation as the backbone of the Navy’s carrier air wing.
The production of Block Ii aircraft concluded in April 2020, with the delivery of the final 322 E and 286 F models.
A month after that, the first pair of F/A-18 Block Iii test jets were sent to the Navy for carrier testing.
Boeing developed the Block Iii Super Hornet to complement current and future air wing capabilities, while the Navy plans to use the aircraft to test and explore new operational concepts.
The first Block Iii aircraft featured several advancements, including an advanced cockpit system with a 10X19 inch touchscreen that functions like a Large Tablet.
This system replaced many traditional cockpit buttons and knobs and enabled pilots to track and target multiple long-range objects with greater precision.
The aircraft also have the open-architecture Distributed Targeting Processor-Networked (Dtp-N), which gives the aircraft’s mission computer more processing power and networking capability, as well as the Tactical Targeting Network Technology (TTNT) data link.
Block Iii Super Hornets have certain features to help reduce the jet’s radar signature as well.
Beyond all that, this program has rolled in two other updates that had previously been in the works for future Navy Super Hornets, these being an improved satellite communications Satcom system and the integration of a podded infrared search and track (IRST) system.
The IRST is a “stealth equalizer” that provides the ability to passively detect and counter stealthy aircraft.
Russia’s Sukhoi Su-57 5th generation fighter and China’s 5th generation fighters, including the Chengdu J-20 and Shenyang Fc-31..
Extending the airframe life of the Super Hornet is a Navy priority.
The F/A-18E/F has a 6,000-hour service life, but the Strike Fighter has been used heavily over nearly 20 years of conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.
That has worn out significant numbers of Super Hornets, leading to lower readiness rates and leaving some examples with little useful life remaining.
New build Block Iii Super Hornets will have an airframe service life of 10,000 hours.
Block Ii Super Hornets receiving Block Iii modifications will get an “additional 4,000 hours” of service life “Per Jet”.
Furthermore, the Block Iii Super Hornet was set to feature shoulder mounted conformal fuel tanks.
They could carry 3,500 pounds of additional fuel and reduce drag ], allowing the aircraft to operate longer, go faster and/or carry more weight.
This option has been dropped.
However, The hardware upgrades are complete.
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.
After nearly a decade of fits and starts, the Navy has quietly initiated work to develop its first new carrier-based fighter in almost 20 years, standing up a new program office and holding early discussions with industry.
Usmn has learned.
The multi-billion-dollar effort to replace the Super Hornet beginning in the 2030s is taking early steps to quickly develop a new manned fighter to extend the reach of the carrier air wing and bring new relevance to the Navy’s fleet of nuclear- powered aircraft carriers.
Navy acquisition chief James Geurts told reporters last week that the service created a program office for the Next Generation Air Dominance initiative.
“We’re working to outline that program and the acquisition approach, and all that as we speak”, Geurts said.
Naval Air Systems Command’s recent establishment of the Ngad program office comes as the Pentagon faces a constrained budget environment while trying to adjust to a new defense strategy focused on combatting Russian and Chinese threats in the Indo-Pacific theater.
To kick off the Ngad initiative, the Navy formally stood up the Next Generation Air Dominance program office, which the service is calling PMA-230, in May and tapped Capt Al Mousseau to serve as the program manager.
However, Mousseau has since retired and has been succeeded by Captain John Dougherty.
Despite the move towards a new fighter aircraft, the Super Hornet will continue to play a critical role for the Navy in the coming years.
The F/A-18E/F will remain the primary strike power from Us carriers for the next decade, offering a versatile and reliable platform for a wide range of missions.