On 17 April 2020, Boeing completed the delivery of 322 one seater F/A-18Es and 286 two-seat F/A-18Fs Block II Super Hornet to US Navy. The robust airframe of the aircraft is built with an open mission systems architecture, which has enabled easy integration of new weapons and technologies. The Block II Super Hornet serves as the Navy’s front line combat aircraft, fully capable across the full mission spectrum which includes air Final Block II Super Hornet, USN awaits Block III superiority, fighter escort, reconnaissance, aerial refueling, close air support, air defense suppression, and day/night precision strike.
The proven capabilities and successes of the Block II programme were leveraged by the Navy in awarding a multi-year procurement contract for Block III Super Hornets to Boeing in March 2019, totaling approximately $4 billion. The Navy will procure 72 Block III Super Hornet aircraft between fiscal years 2019 and 2021, while realising more efficient production rates and providing the supporting industrial base with stability and advantages in production and spares planning.
Boeing is expected to deliver the Block III jets to the Navy by late spring, when subsequent testing will commence at both NAS Patuxent River and Naval Air Weapons System (NAWS) China Lake. This latest version of the Super Hornet includes an advanced cockpit system; advanced network infrastructure; reduced radar cross-section and a 10,000-flight hour lifespan.
Company’s official stated, “Though we have done tremendous work to meet readiness requirements, we know continual forward momentum is needed to sustain that readiness while maintaining our tactical advantage to be more lethal and survivable than our potential adversaries. The solid partnership with Boeing for the Block III production and modification programmes ensures the Super Hornet will remain not only relevant, but ready to fight in today’s dynamic global environment and well into the future.”
The latest version on the Hornet family will have five major design features that include advanced cockpit system which works on the amalgamation of legacy display and a single glass touchscreen making it more user friendly; increased fuel capacity that allows the aircraft to carry 1588 kg of more fuel than its predecessor Block II; augmented flight hours to 10000 as compared to 6000 flight hours in the previous version and an advanced networking infrastructure that includes a distributed targeting network processor to add computing power to the jet and process data faster to aid the pilot in decision-making.