F/A-18 Su­per Hor­net: End­less pos­si­bil­i­ties for the fu­ture

Boe­ing is not just of­fer­ing un­matched prod­ucts to the In­dian armed forces but also sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fits to In­dia’s in­dige­nous aero­space man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor by bring­ing in their global scale and sup­ply chain, its best-in-in­dus­try pre­ci­sion man­u­fac­tur­ing p

SP's MAI - - FRONT PAGE - GENE CUN­NING­HAM

F/A-18 Su­per Hor­net a Com­bat Proven Fighter

The im­por­tance of car­rier avi­a­tion can­not be un­der­stated – in par­tic­u­lar to a coun­try like In­dia with a large coast­line cov­er­ing more than half its bor­ders. The In­dian Air Force is fo­cused on pro­tect­ing the north, and with coast­lines cov­er­ing much of In­dia’s east – south – and west, the need for a strong car­rier air wing is clear.

With multi-role ca­pa­bil­i­ties, ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies with room to grow and low ac­qui­si­tion and sus­tain­ment costs, the F/A-18 Su­per Hor­net is the clear choice for In­dia. With de­signed-in stealth, an AESA radar and many other ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies that are ideal for mis­sion re­quire­ments of the naval avi­a­tor, the F/A-18 Su­per Hor­net is the most ad­vanced air­craft of its kind in op­er­a­tion to­day and will pro­vide op­er­a­tional ben­e­fits to the ex­ist­ing and fu­ture force struc­ture of the In­dian armed forces.

Boe­ing’s Su­per Hor­net of­fers the best of those at­tributes – it is com­bat proven, but de­fined to meet the US Navy’s flight plan so that it con­tin­ues to evolve to out­pace fu­ture threats. The Su­per Hor­net will be on the Navy’s car­rier decks well into the 2040s – be­ing three-

fourths of the Navy’s strike fighter ca­pac­ity into the 2030’s and no less than half the car­ri­ers strik­ing force into the 2040’s.

On May 23rd, the Pres­i­dent of the United States sent his 2018 fis­cal year budget to Congress, and in­cluded in that budget was a re­quire­ment for 80 Su­per Hor­nets over the next five years to ad­dress its strike fighter short­fall. Also in that budget re­quest was fund­ing for Block 3 ca­pa­bil­i­ties to en­sure the air wing has the ca­pa­bil­i­ties needed to win in the 2020s and beyond.

The next gen­er­a­tion of Su­per Hor­net air­craft comes into the US Navy and po­ten­tially in­ter­na­tional cus­tomers to ful­fill its role as the next-gen air­plane in a com­ple­men­tary way with the F-35. Those two air­planes are go­ing to work to­gether on the car­rier decks for the US Navy for decades to come.

In­tro­duced in 2007, the F/A-18 Su­per Hor­net Block II is the world’s pre­em­i­nent car­rier ca­pa­ble air­craft and best suited for In­dia’s naval fighter re­quire­ments. The F/A-18 Su­per Hor­net was de­signed from day one for car­rier op­er­a­tions and is the world’s pre­em­i­nent car­rier ca­pa­ble air­craft. It is a com­bat proven, su­per­sonic, all weather mul­ti­role fighter jet with a de­fined US Navy flight plan to out­pace threats for decades to come. Ev­ery Su­per Hor­net to the US Navy has been de­liv­ered on cost and on sched­ule.

Ev­ery Su­per Hor­net has a buddy re­fu­elling ca­pa­bil­ity that can ex­tend time on sta­tion, range, and en­durance. Ad­di­tion­ally, the Su­per Hor­net can pro­vide close and deep air sup­port through the Active Elec­tron­i­cally Scanned Ar­ray (AESA) radar tar­get­ing data and re­li­able data links.

The Su­per Hor­nets are fully com­pat­i­ble with the In­dian Navy’s air­craft car­ri­ers. Ex­ten­sive sim­u­la­tion has shown that the Su­per Hor­net is ca­pa­ble of con­duct­ing STOBAR op­er­a­tions with a mean­ing­ful weapons and fuel load.

Ease of Main­te­nance

The F/A-18 Su­per Hor­net not only has a low ac­qui­si­tion cost, but it costs less per flight hour to op­er­ate than any other tac­ti­cal air­craft in US forces in­ven­tory. Part of its af­ford­abil­ity is be­cause the Su­per Hor­net is de­signed to need far less main­te­nance; this trans­lates into high mis­sion avail­abil­ity. Ease of main­te­nance (sup­port­a­bil­ity) re­sults in lower main­te­nance man-hours per flight hour.

Plus, the Su­per Hor­net does not re­quire any sched­uled de­potlevel main­te­nance and the en­gine does not re­quire any sched­uled main­te­nance be­tween over­hauls.

This low cost of op­er­a­tion, low main­te­nance re­quire­ments and twin-en­gine based sur­viv­abil­ity al­low the Su­per Hor­net to fly to and back from harsh en­vi­ron­ments.

Pre­pared for fu­ture threats: F/A-18 Ad­vanced Su­per Hor­net Ca­pa­bil­i­ties

The Su­per Hor­net is a plat­form that is con­tin­u­ously evolv­ing to out­pace fu­ture threats. Ev­ery two years Boe­ing and its in­dus­try part­ners along with the US Navy work on de­liv­er­ing new ca­pa­bil­i­ties to the fighter. Crit­i­cal mis­sion sys­tems such as the radar, mis­sion com­put­ers and sen­sors con­tinue to evolve to match up to the mis­sion pro­files of the fu­ture.

To ad­dress the ca­pa­bil­i­ties needed in the air wing as early as the 2020s, Boe­ing has also de­vel­oped the Block III Su­per Hor­net to com­ple­ment ex­ist­ing and fu­ture air wing ca­pa­bil­i­ties. Block III is the same air­craft as Ad­vanced Su­per Hor­net. The Ad­vanced F/A-18E/F Su­per Hor­net’s multi-mis­sion ca­pa­bil­i­ties in­clude bat­tle-space sit­u­a­tional aware­ness, counter-stealth tar­get­ing, greater range and in­creased ac­cel­er­a­tion, im­proved sur­viv­abil­ity and re­duced sig­na­ture and room for growth.

The Block III Su­per Hor­net will come on­line at the same time as the F-35. In the 2020s, three Su­per Hor­net squadrons and one F-35 squadron may form the air­wing of car­rier fleets. Cur­rently, in the US Navy three out of four, and in most cases all four squadrons based off air­craft car­ri­ers, are Su­per Hor­net squadrons.

These ad­vanced ca­pa­bil­i­ties can be both built into new air­craft and in­cor­po­rated into ex­ist­ing air­craft, al­low­ing max­i­mum abil­ity to field these ca­pa­bil­i­ties quickly and af­ford­ably. Block III Su­per Hor­net is built from the same air­frame as Block II, pro­vid­ing low risk devel­op­ment and main­tain­ing the low­est op­er­at­ing costs of any US tac­ti­cal fighter. While Boe­ing demon­strated ad­vanced Su­per Hor­net ca­pa­bil­i­ties in flight in 2013, the pack­age of up­grades has evolved to best com­ple­ment F-35, EA-18G and E-2D as they will be op­er­at­ing to­gether in the air wing well into the 2040s.

Key fea­tures of Block III Su­per Hor­net in­clude en­hanced net­work ca­pa­bil­ity, longer range with low-drag, stealthy con­for­mal fuel tanks, long-range de­tec­tion with In­frared Search & Track, en­hanced sit­u­a­tional aware­ness with a new Ad­vanced Cock­pit Sys­tem, im­proved sig­na­ture with low ob­serv­able next gen­er­a­tion radar cross sec­tion for in­creased sur­viv­abil­ity and 9,000+ hour life for re­duced life cy­cle costs by in­cor­po­rat­ing de­sign changes into pro­duc­tion air­craft based on lessons learned from the Ser­vice Life Anal­y­sis Pro­gram.

A sig­nif­i­cant de­sign evo­lu­tion is the ad­di­tion of Con­for­mal Fuel Tanks. Mounted on the shoul­der of the Block III, con­for­mal fuel tanks ex­tend the range of the Block III by 100 nau­ti­cal miles which is sig­nif­i­cantly larger range when com­pared to the Block II. Con­for­mal Fuel Tanks also free up the space oc­cu­pied by a cen­ter­line drop­tank. This means that the Air Force and the Navy have an ad­di­tional hard-point to carry more air-to-air or air-to-ground weapons.

Modern and next-gen­er­a­tion air­craft have a large amount of data avail­able through their sen­sors. The Su­per Hor­net Block III comes equipped with Dis­tribut­ing Tar­get­ing Pro­ces­sor Net­work (DTP-N) and Tac­ti­cal Tar­get­ing Net­work Tech­nol­ogy (TTNT). These are ba­si­cally a com­puter and a big data plat­form that work to­gether to aid in even more ef­fi­cient move­ment and man­age­ment of data within as­sets.

The Ad­vanced Cock­pit Sys­tem is a next-gen­er­a­tion use in­ter­face, which sim­pli­fies the in­ter­pre­ta­tion and pro­jec­tion of a large quan­tity of in­for­ma­tion for the air­crew – both in the front and rear cock­pit – mak­ing it easy to in­ter­face and man­age an in­for­ma­tion net­work.

The Block IIIs sen­sors along with the APG-79 AESA Radar cou­pled to DTP-N and TTNT sys­tems plots in­for­ma­tion on the Ad­vances Cock­pit Sys­tem mak­ing it easy for air­crews to view and man­age in­for­ma­tion.

Even though the Su­per Hor­net Block II is a stealth air­craft, Boe­ing has made a few sig­na­ture im­prove­ments to re­duce the Radar Cross Sec­tion (RCS) of the Block III to make it even stealth­ier.

In­tro­duced in 2007, the F/A-18 Su­per Hor­net Block II is the world’s pre­em­i­nent car­rier ca­pa­ble air­craft and best suited for In­dia’s naval fighter re­quire­ments

F/A-18 Su­per Hor­net Make in In­dia

Boe­ing has had a pres­ence in In­dia for more than seven decades and is com­mit­ted to ex­pand­ing that part­ner­ship by pro­duc­ing Su­per Hor­nets in In­dia, fur­ther de­vel­op­ing In­dia’s aero­space ecosys­tem. Boe­ing’s pro­posed ‘Make in In­dia’ plans for the Su­per Hor­net are not about mov­ing a pro­duc­tion line but rather build­ing an en­tirely new and state-of-the-art pro­duc­tion fa­cil­ity that can be uti­lized for other pro­grams like In­dia’s Ad­vanced Medium Com­bat Air­craft (AMCA) pro­gramme.

Boe­ing is pre­pared to bring its global scale and sup­ply chain, its best-in-in­dus­try pre­ci­sion man­u­fac­tur­ing pro­cesses, as well as the com­pany’s un­ri­valed ex­pe­ri­ence de­sign­ing and op­ti­miz­ing aero­space pro­duc­tion fa­cil­i­ties to bear in both ex­pand­ing In­dia’s aero­space ecosys­tem and help­ing re­al­ize the ‘Make in In­dia’ vi­sion. The ap­proach ad­dresses the in­fra­struc­ture, per­son­nel train­ing, and op­er­a­tional tools and tech­niques re­quired to pro­duce a next-gen fighter air­craft right here in In­dia.

Boe­ing will work closely with In­dia in­dus­try to en­sure they have the very lat­est tech­nolo­gies, ap­ply­ing lessons learned from the cur­rent Su­per Hor­net pro­duc­tion line. The pro­gramme en­vis­ages tran­si­tion­ing air­frame and sub­sys­tem man­u­fac­ture to In­dian in­dus­try in a de­lib­er­ate way, rep­re­sent­ing ex­traor­di­nary op­por­tu­nity for tech­nol­ogy in­ser­tion and growth within In­dia’s aero­space in­dus­try.

Boe­ing will part­ner with In­dian in­dus­try to de­velop the right ca­pa­bil­i­ties as ef­fi­ciently and cost ef­fec­tively as pos­si­ble to in­te­grate these sup­pli­ers into the global sup­ply chain. Boe­ing and its cur­rent in­dus­try part­ners are hav­ing ro­bust dis­cus­sions with sup­pli­ers in In­dia about build­ing Su­per Hor­nets. Cur­rently over 60,000 peo­ple from 800 sup­pli­ers across 44 states are part of the sup­ply chain sup­port­ing the Su­per Hor­net. This in­cludes sup­pli­ers who man­u­fac­ture parts for the Su­per Hor­net in In­dia.

With ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies and multi-role ca­pa­bil­i­ties, the Su­per Hor­net is per­fectly suited to meet the needs of the In­dian Navy and In­dian Air Force now and in the fu­ture.

F/A-18 for the In­dian Air Force

It is our un­der­stand­ing that the In­dian Air Force (IAF) will have a need for ad­di­tional twin en­gine air­craft as the IAF re­tires its Jaguars, MIG and Mi­rage air­craft. We are hav­ing on­go­ing dis­cus­sions with the IAF, In­dian Navy and MoD on the best way for In­dia to meet its fighter needs while build­ing an in­dige­nous in­dus­trial base.

Make in In­dia

Our F/A-18 Su­per Hor­net ‘Make in In­dia’ propo­si­tion is a fine ex­am­ple of what the fu­ture could look like. The F/A-18 Su­per Hor­net will pro­vide un­matched ben­e­fits to not only the In­dian armed forces but also to In­dia’s in­dige­nous aero­space man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor. We are pre­pared to bring our global scale and sup­ply chain, its bestin-in­dus­try pre­ci­sion man­u­fac­tur­ing pro­cesses, as well as the com­pany’s un­ri­valed ex­pe­ri­ence de­sign­ing and op­ti­miz­ing aero­space pro­duc­tion fa­cil­i­ties to bear in both ex­pand­ing In­dia’s aero­space ecosys­tem and in serv­ing as a bridge to the Ad­vanced Medium Com­bat Air­craft (AMCA). The depth of the trans­fer will re­ally help ad­vance In­dia’s aero­space ecosys­tem.

Boe­ing is mak­ing the in­vest­ments re­quired to do this and is de­liv­er­ing on its ‘Make in In­dia’ prom­ise. Boe­ing has quadru­pled its man­u­fac­tur­ing and sourc­ing ac­tiv­i­ties in the coun­try and will sur­pass a bil­lion dol­lars this year with 160 sup­pli­ers. We have been work­ing with these sup­pli­ers and part­ners in man­u­fac­tur­ing, IT and en­gi­neer­ing ser­vices to pro­vide parts and as­sem­blies cov­er­ing aerostruc­tures, wire har­ness, com­pos­ites, forg­ings, avion­ics mis­sion sys­tems, ground sup­port equip­ment and train­ing. Through Boe­ing’s ef­forts, the sup­plier base is de­liv­er­ing on com­plex work pack­ages for com­mer­cial and de­fense air­craft such as the 777, 787, P-8, F/A-18 Su­per Hor­net, F-15, AH-64 Apache and CH-47 Chi­nook.

Our In­dian sup­pli­ers are al­ready man­u­fac­tur­ing crit­i­cal com­po­nents and as­sem­blies for the AH-64 Apache and CH-47 Chi­nook. Our joint ven­ture with Tata Ad­vanced Sys­tems is man­u­fac­tur­ing AH-64 Apache he­li­copter fuse­lages, sec­ondary struc­tures and ver­ti­cal spar box in the ini­tial phase and then will fo­cus on co-devel­op­ment of sys­tems in the fu­ture. Dy­na­matic Tech­nolo­gies is man­u­fac­tur­ing the ramp and py­lon aerostruc­tures for the CH-47 Chi­nook he­li­copter. Tata Ad­vanced Sys­tems is man­u­fac­tur­ing crown and tail­cone as­sem­blies for the In­dian con­fig­u­ra­tion of the CH-47F Chi­nook he­li­copter. These work or­ders were es­tab­lished be­fore we even won In­dian or­ders.

Our joint ven­ture, TBAL, is al­ready pro­duc­ing fuse­lages, sec­ondary struc­tures and ver­ti­cal spar boxes for the AH-64 Apache, in­clud­ing those for the In­dian Army con­tract when we re­ceive one. In June this year, Dy­na­matic Tech­nolo­gies is mak­ing the CH-47 Chi­nook’s ramp and py­lon in In­dia.

This mile­stones are sig­nif­i­cant steps in our jour­ney to in­crease de­fense ca­pa­bil­ity and man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pac­ity out of In­dia.

Boe­ing F/A-18 Su­per Hor­net

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