Advanced Capability Enhances Situational Awareness
Boeing has delivered the first of 78 contracted Block III F/A-18 Super HORNETs to the US Navy, the company announced on 27 September.
“The fleet needs capabilities to keep its edge […] Getting the first operational Block III in our hands is a great step forward in supporting our capability and readiness goals,” observed Capt Jason Denney, US Navy F/A-18 and EA-18G Program Manager.
The Block III gives the Navy the most networked and survivable F/A-18 yet built, with a technology insertion plan that will outpace future threats. Exceeding the capabilities of fourth generation platforms, the USN configuration embodies capabilities including an advanced cockpit system with a 10x19in touch screen display, enhanced networking, open mission systems, reduced radar signature and a 10,000-hour airframe. The configuration’s new adjunct processor translates to a fighter that will do more work and in far less time, increasing a pilot’s situational awareness. The aircraft is ready to receive apps-based solutions that will allow upgrades to the aircraft throughout its anticipated lifetime.
“We invested in Block III technology and developed the capabilities in partnership with the US Navy to meet its emerging requirements […] The hardware upgrades are complete. Today we are maximizing the open hardware and software and developing the apps to keep Block III ahead of future threats. We are giving Navy pilots the tools to make the fastest and most informed decisions possible now and in the future,” explained Jen Tebo, Boeing VP of F/A-18 and EA-18G Programs.
Boeing will continue to deliver Block III capabilities to the Navy through the mid-2030s from one new-build production line, and two Service Life Modification lines, extending the life and eventually upgrading Block II Super HORNETs to Block III. The first aircraft delivered will complete the US Navy flight test program before deploying to a squadron.