F-18 Advanced Super Hornet

Wisemarko

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Source: Defense News
Boeing delivers first Block III Super Hornets to the US Navy
Megan EcksteinSep 27, 07:00 AM
View attachment 112231
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Navy this month accepted the first two Block III F/A-18 Super Hornet jets from Boeing, the company announced Sept. 27, kicking off a process that will create a better networked and more lethal fighter fleet.

Boeing will build 78 total new aircraft in the Block III configuration, which includes an Advanced Cockpit System built around a touchscreen display; the Tactical Targeting Network Technology, or TTNT; and Distributed Targeting Processor-Networked, or DTP-N.

The network will help link all the sensors from aircraft and ships in the battlespace to create a better operational picture for smarter targeting decisions, and the new processor has 17 times the computing power of the previous mission computer, Jen Tebo, Boeing’s vice president of F/A-18 and EA-18G projects, told reporters Sept. 23. Tebo added that the new, open-design processor can take on yet-to-come upgrades and capabilities.

The Block III jets are also built for 10,000 flight hours compared to 6,000 hours for earlier jets, and they’ve been made stealthier and more survivable with additional treatments that reduce their radar cross section, Tebo explained.

“If you think about where the capabilities are going in the future, it’s certainly around the airframe, certainly around the survivability piece, stealth technology piece. But the meat and potatoes in the future are really going to be around the networking and the mission systems, and this sets up the Super Hornet to be the risk-reducer and the bridge to get to Next Gen Air Dominance,” she said, referring to the Navy’s next fighter program that’s in the early planning stages.

Boeing is to deliver the new aircraft at a pace of about two per month.

At the same time, the Navy is putting its Block II Super Hornets through a life-extension program, and all aircraft going through those upgrades — meant to fix wear and tear on the airframe and extend the jets from 6,000 to 10,000 hours of flight time — will receive upgrades to the Block III configuration. Tebo said that if the Navy puts all its Block II aircraft through the modification program, the service would have more than 500 total Block III aircraft — new and upgraded — that would continue trickling into the fleet well into the 2030s.

Next steps
Boeing delivered two test aircraft to the Navy last year, and the service tested the new systems and conducted carrier suitability tests with the new cockpit, said Kevin McLaughlin, Boeing’s director of Navy tactical aircraft programs. With the delivery of these first two operational Block III jets, the Navy can send them to China Lake, California, to undergo developing tactics, techniques and procedures for the new capabilities, which will allow the pilots to receive more information than before and work in coordination with more troops in the area.

Additionally, he said, pilots from the first operational squadron to receive Block III jets will travel to St. Louis, Missouri, this fall to begin learning the new systems in simulators at Boeing’s facility there.

McLaughlin, a career Navy F-18 pilot himself, said the touchscreen cockpit system will be a particularly important improvement. Older jets have three small screens that only display certain information each; the new cockpit has one large touchscreen display that could be configured like the previous display, if pilots are more comfortable in the beginning looking at a familiar display, but they can also be reconfigured to highlight information that’s most important to a particular mission.

Tebo said the display will incorporate future capabilities such as artificial intelligence and decision aides. Earlier Super Hornets received upgrades about every other year, but the open-mission system on Block III will allow the Navy, Boeing or a third party to develop improvements or new capabilities.

By the end of the year, Tebo said, the Navy will have begun sending the jets coming off the production line to operational squadrons.


Boeing delivered its first two F/A-18 Block III jets to the U.S. Navy in September 2021. (Eric Shindelbower/Boeing)
The Block III jets will be ready to accept the Infrared search and track sensor system that will come online around the same time the aircraft are ready for their first operational employment. The jets will also be ready to accept a conformal fuel tank — which Boeing originally pitched as part of the Block III design — if the Navy decides to finish designing the tanks and buy that capability, Tebo said.

Boeing’s approach to modernizing the Navy’s fleet stairsteps up the capability of the jets while buying down risk on the next step of modernization, Tebo added.

The EA-18G Growler electronic attack jet is undergoing a modernization effort that adds in TTNT, DTP-N and satellite communication, she said. Boeing will take those same upgrade kits and use them for the Super Hornet service life modification as well as the Block III upgrade effort, adding in the advanced cockpit and the materials needed to extend the airframe by 4,000 hours. Once that effort is proven, the Growlers will receive upgrades to a Block II configuration with the advanced cockpit, which Tebo said Boeing will know how to efficiently install thanks to the Super Hornet work.

“There’s a lot of learning that goes on between the two platforms,” she said, with all of the learning ultimately informing the company’s work on the Next Generation Air Dominance future fighter.

International efforts
During the same event, Tebo also addressed foreign sales opportunities Boeing is pursuing. Switzerland chose the F-35 over the F-18 earlier this year, she said, but the company remains hopeful Canada or Finland will select the Super Hornet.

Canada, which would buy 88 jets, is an F-35 partner nation but already fields Super Hornets and is involved in the F-18 industrial base.

With Finland, the Growler is also part of Boeing’s offer, and Tebo said the EA-18G could be the differentiating factor that helps the company win a contract.

Additionally, Germany plans to buy Super Hornets and Growlers to replace its aging Tornado fighter-bombers as well as upgrade its multirole Eurofighters, but Tebo said the timing remains unclear. Boeing is continuing discussions with Germany until the country’s leadership is ready to sign a deal.

Megan Eckstein is the naval warfare reporter at Defense News. She has covered military news since 2009, with a focus on U.S. Navy and Marine Corps operations, acquisition programs, and budgets. She has reported from four geographic fleets and is happiest when she’s filing stories from a ship. Megan is a University of Maryland alumna.View attachment 112231
 

Tshering22

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There is a reason why the MoD isn't buying US-made jets - and that is because it comes with strings attached. Given the see-saw foreign policy of the US, it puts our strategic autonomy at risk. While the same is applicable for transporters, we still have enough Russian/Soviet transporters + US-made spares to continue existing operations while negotiations to remove sanctions start.

However, in the event of a war especially on the eastern front, not having operational fighters (that rotate spares faster than transporters) will be a death sentence for our ground troops. While politics will always repair the damage done over time afterwards, we will not be able to defeat the enemy.

F/A-18 SH is an excellent fighter but it is as good as cardboard for us if it comes with strings.
 

Tang

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There is a reason why the MoD isn't buying US-made jets - and that is because it comes with strings attached. Given the see-saw foreign policy of the US, it puts our strategic autonomy at risk. While the same is applicable for transporters, we still have enough Russian/Soviet transporters + US-made spares to continue existing operations while negotiations to remove sanctions start.

However, in the event of a war especially on the eastern front, not having operational fighters (that rotate spares faster than transporters) will be a death sentence for our ground troops. While politics will always repair the damage done over time afterwards, we will not be able to defeat the enemy.

F/A-18 SH is an excellent fighter but it is as good as cardboard for us if it comes with strings.
F/A-18 SH did not even clear the technical trials of MRCA.
 

Picard

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There is a reason why the MoD isn't buying US-made jets - and that is because it comes with strings attached. Given the see-saw foreign policy of the US, it puts our strategic autonomy at risk. While the same is applicable for transporters, we still have enough Russian/Soviet transporters + US-made spares to continue existing operations while negotiations to remove sanctions start.

However, in the event of a war especially on the eastern front, not having operational fighters (that rotate spares faster than transporters) will be a death sentence for our ground troops. While politics will always repair the damage done over time afterwards, we will not be able to defeat the enemy.

F/A-18 SH is an excellent fighter but it is as good as cardboard for us if it comes with strings.
I am not certain I would rate it as "excellent". It is a good fighter, but I'd say Rafale is superior in every single aspect, as is F-35C.
 

Tshering22

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F/A-18 SH did not even clear the technical trials of MRCA.
Pretty sure that it has something to do with a little bit of 'political softening'. Super Hornets have operated in conditions very similar to ours from around the world; deserts, mountains, cold climate, aboard carriers, etc. It is hard to imagine that they won't have cleared the trials purely on the specifications laid out.

MoD may deny this openly, but they know the risks of acquiring a US fighter jet and use technicality to skirt the issue under the carpet.
 

FalconZero

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Pretty sure that it has something to do with a little bit of 'political softening'. Super Hornets have operated in conditions very similar to ours from around the world; deserts, mountains, cold climate, aboard carriers, etc. It is hard to imagine that they won't have cleared the trials purely on the specifications laid out.

MoD may deny this openly, but they know the risks of acquiring a US fighter jet and use technicality to skirt the issue under the carpet.
I know DCS doesn't depict the scenario, but here's a video of dogfight between Super Hornets and Rafales and rafales mauls it like nothing,

There's no need of F18 when we already have Rafales, should just order 36 more of these and a bit if we can afford without affecting our MWF program and procurement.
 

Tshering22

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I know DCS doesn't depict the scenario, but here's a video of dogfight between Super Hornets and Rafales and rafales mauls it like nothing,

There's no need of F18 when we already have Rafales, should just order 36 more of these and a bit if we can afford without affecting our MWF program and procurement.
I'd rather say that issue fresh bills to expedite the AMCA program; double the resources allocated to it and get it pre-poned. Instead of 2030, get it out by 2026-7. Mass production will take time but if we put all other procurement efforts here, we can achieve it. AMCA is the future and 114 MRCA should not impede that effort.
 

asianobserve

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I am not certain I would rate it as "excellent". It is a good fighter, but I'd say Rafale is superior in every single aspect, as is F-35C.

Rafale and SH are evenly matched. The deciding factors are pilot training and combat support structure.

The F-35C on the other hand is a generation ahead in capabilities.
 

Picard

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Rafale and SH are evenly matched. The deciding factors are pilot training and combat support structure.

The F-35C on the other hand is a generation ahead in capabilities.
Compared to Super Hornet, Rafale has far superior kinematic performance, superior sensors, avionics and EW suite, lower RCS and similar to better weapons (e.g. IR BVR missiles). There is literally not a single area, unless you go to decidedly technical stuff such as radar range, where SH performs anywhere as well as Rafale.

F-35C's main advantage over Rafale is its lower RCS, but Rafale has better overall performance. So "generation ahead in capabilities" is more of a marketing speak than anything else.
 

Tang

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Pretty sure that it has something to do with a little bit of 'political softening'. Super Hornets have operated in conditions very similar to ours from around the world; deserts, mountains, cold climate, aboard carriers, etc. It is hard to imagine that they won't have cleared the trials purely on the specifications laid out.

MoD may deny this openly, but they know the risks of acquiring a US fighter jet and use technicality to skirt the issue under the carpet.
It's not just about operating condition but the capability of actual fighter itself
 

Wisemarko

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Picard

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Read this.
Question on Quora: Why do some consider the Rafale aircraft superior to the F-35 when clearly the F-35 is decades ahead of the Rafale?
https://www.quora.com/Why-do-some-c...hare=b12a4649&srid=5Efpe&target_type=question
What about it? Yeah, F-35 is better strike aircraft in attacks against defended targets. That is what it was made for. Rafale is better in literally everything else, as it is an air superiority design with multirole capabilities.

Also, F-35 having 9 g capability with 4 000 lb PGMs? Not likely.

F-35s radar acting as a jammer would make it ridiculosly easy target for either anti-radiation missiles or missiles using a home-on-jam mode.

Rafale's SPECTRA allows a single Rafale to attack ground targets, which means that the link guy cited in comparing F-35s and Rafale's EW suites is wrong.

Also, F-35s 360 degree attack capability? Present in Rafale for a long time.
"During our assessments, we performed BVR and WVR engagements with the Mirage 2000 C RDI (analyzed in more detail in Part 3 of this test), where we had the opportunity to confirm the combination of the sensibility of SPECTRA EW with the all-aspect launching and target acquisition of MICA IR. This allowed us to designate the target from any source (EM / IR / Laser Threat Detection - Electromagnetic Threat Detection / Infrared / Laser), when the security bubble around the Rafale was invad-ed, and to execute the missile launch “over the shoulder.” Over the shoulder means that a MICA can be fired at a target located at position six o’clock (behind the aircraft) without changing flight direction."
 

Wisemarko

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Rafale's SPECTRA allows a single Rafale to attack ground targets, which means that the link guy cited in comparing F-35s and Rafale's EW suites is wrong
You really need to read more:
 
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Picard

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You really need to read more:
For what? Half the posts there are about how F-35 uses radar for jamming, as if it is a big advantage (it isn't, it is not a good idea in the first place, nevermind that any AESA-equipped plane can do it). And sure, first guy does have a point about standoff vs self-protection jammers - but the entire idea behind SPECTRA is that Rafale doesn't need standoff jamming support, because entire package consists of Rafales and each Rafale takes care of its own protection. Growler's jamming pods may have more power than SPECTRA, but they also need that power, because they are providing standoff jamming as opposed to self-protection suite.
 

Wisemarko

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For what? Half the posts there are about how F-35 uses radar for jamming, as if it is a big advantage (it isn't, it is not a good idea in the first place, nevermind that any AESA-equipped plane can do it). And sure, first guy does have a point about standoff vs self-protection jammers - but the entire idea behind SPECTRA is that Rafale doesn't need standoff jamming support, because entire package consists of Rafales and each Rafale takes care of its own protection. Growler's jamming pods may have more power than SPECTRA, but they also need that power, because they are providing standoff jamming as opposed to self-protection suite.
Not only you need to read more but also need to learn how to read.
 

StealthFlanker

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Compared to Super Hornet, Rafale has far superior kinematic performance, superior sensors, avionics and EW suite, lower RCS and similar to better weapons (e.g. IR BVR missiles). There is literally not a single area, unless you go to decidedly technical stuff such as radar range, where SH performs anyhere as well as Rafale.
Sure Rafale has better kinematic and better AA missile than F-18E/F but that where the advantage end. In term of sensor, F-18E/F simply much better than Rafale, there is not even a contest, F-18E/F radar aperture is bigger than Rafale one, which translate to better gain meaning longer detection range and narrower beam width aka better accuracy
Furthermore, F-18E/F IRST has bigger aperture, which once again, translate to better directivity and sensitivity
In term of air to ground weapon, Rafale has nothing comparable to GBU-54 or AARGM-ER
21EA843D-FC02-45E1-9DE9-3B2ED8C6B1A1.png
 

StealthFlanker

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What about it? Yeah, F-35 is better strike aircraft in attacks against defended targets. That is what it was made for. Rafale is better in literally everything else, as it is an air superiority design with multirole capabilities.
At most, Rafale is better in interceptor role since it probably climb faster, but that pretty much it. Literally everything else F-35 is better



F-35s radar acting as a jammer would make it ridiculosly easy target for either anti-radiation missiles or missiles using a home-on-jam mode.
Anti radiation missile and missile in HoJ mode both home on bearing of radiation, so actually it is irrelevant whether it is an F-35 using radar to Jam or a Rafale jamming with fuselage antenna. For all intend and purpose, they are exactly the same.
Generally speaking, to counter HOJ missile or anti radiation missile, you need the jamming transmitter to not located inside the aircraft. One way to do that is by using fiber optic towed decoy to transmit jamming signal, an example of such system is ALE-70 used by F-35 and ALE-55 used by F-18E/F. By contrast, most Rafale currently doesn't even have towed decoy
80261167-7136-472B-8E43-3FD5F60FEBFB.jpeg


An alternative way is to put the jammer on a separate cruise missile and doing cooperate blinking jamming in conjunction, two example of that are MALD-J/X/N series and SPEAR-EW, both are available to F-35 while Rafale doesn't have anything even remotely comparable

D2CE0E5C-5334-4B5A-8692-82431FBE449C.png

1ECDF269-A8F8-4B79-8A43-8D9BB19A7AED.png


and here lie the biggest advantage of F-35 over Rafale, due to the much lower RCS of F-35, the burn through range against F-35 is significantly shorter compared to Rafale, the power required for effective jamming is also several order of magnitude smaller
EB474C1C-3780-4538-9B92-514D2B41D745.png


]

Also, F-35s 360 degree attack capability? Present in Rafale for a long time.
"During our assessments, we performed BVR and WVR engagements with the Mirage 2000 C RDI (analyzed in more detail in Part 3 of this test), where we had the opportunity to confirm the combination of the sensibility of SPECTRA EW with the all-aspect launching and target acquisition of MICA IR. This allowed us to designate the target from any source (EM / IR / Laser Threat Detection - Electromagnetic Threat Detection / Infrared / Laser), when the security bubble around the Rafale was invad-ed, and to execute the missile launch “over the shoulder.” Over the shoulder means that a MICA can be fired at a target located at position six o’clock (behind the aircraft) without changing flight direction."
F-35 has always have 360 degree attack capability, that literally what DAS and ASQ-239 are for
 

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