The RAAF’s Su­per Hor­nets: a case for the IAF?

Vayu Aerospace and Defence - - Aviation Defence & In India -

The Royal Aus­tralian Air Force op­er­ates 24 Su­per Hor­nets and 12 Growlers, be­ing one of seven air forces op­er­at­ing the type. The F/A-18 Su­per Hor­net brings the lat­est gen­er­a­tion of tech­nolo­gies to the an ex­pe­di­en­tial leap in tech­nol­ogy needed for cur­rent and fu­ture mis­sions. The Ad­vanced Tar­get­ing For­ward Look­ing In­frared sys­tem, Joint Hel­met Mounted Cue­ing Sys­tem, Mul­ti­func­tional In­for­ma­tion Dis­tri­bu­tion Sys­tem, ad­vanced high ca­pac­ity com­puter sys­tem, and state-of-the-art cock­pit pro­vides aware­ness and ca­pa­bil­ity now and far into the fu­ture.

The Su­per Hor­net is highly ca­pa­ble across the full mis­sion spec­trum and is a true multi-role air­craft, able to per­form vir­tu­ally ev­ery mis­sion in the tac­ti­cal spec­trum, in­clud­ing air su­pe­ri­or­ity, day/ night strike with pre­ci­sion guided weapons, strike, re­con­nais­sance, for­ward air con­trol and tanker mis­sions.

to the fighter. Crit­i­cal mis­sion sys­tems such as the radar, mis­sion com­put­ers and sen­sors con­tinue to evolve.

Boe­ing has also de­vel­oped the Block III Su­per Hor­net to com­ple­ment ex­ist­ing and fu­ture air wing ca­pa­bil­i­ties. Block III is also known as the Ad­vanced Su­per Hor­net. The Ad­vanced F/ A- 18E/ F Su­per Hor­net’s multi-mis­sion ca­pa­bil­i­ties in­clude in­creased bat­tle-space sit­u­a­tional aware­ness, counter stealth tar­get­ing, greater range and in­creased ac­cel­er­a­tion, im­proved sur­viv­abil­ity with re­duced sig­na­ture.

The Block III Su­per Hor­net will be op­er­a­tional at the same time as will the F-35. In the 2020s, three Su­per Hor­net squadrons and one F-35 squadron may form the air­wing of US car­rier fleets.

These ad­vanced ca­pa­bil­i­ties can both be built into new air­craft and in­cor­po­rated into ex­ist­ing air­craft, al­low­ing max­i­mum abil­ity to field these ca­pa­bil­i­ties rapidly. 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 com­ple­ment the F-35, EA-18G and E-2D which will be op­er­at­ing to­gether in the air wing well into the 2040s.

Key Fea­tures

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, an 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.

A sig­nif­i­cant de­sign fea­ture is the ad­di­tion of Con­for­mal Fuel Tanks. Mounted on shoul­der of the Block III, con­for­mal fuel tanks ex­tend the range of the su­per Hor­net by 100 nau­ti­cal miles, a sig­nif­i­cantly longer range than the Block II. Con­for­mal Fuel Tanks also free space oc­cu­pied by a cen­tre­line drop-tank, thus giv­ing an ad­di­tional hard-point to carry air-to-air or air-to-ground weapons.

Mod­ern next-gen­er­a­tion air­craft col­lect a large amount of data 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 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 man­age an in­for­ma­tion net­work.

The F/A-18 Block III’s sen­sors along with the APG-79 AESA Radar cou­pled to DTP- N and TTNT sys­tems plots in­for­ma­tion for air­crew to view and man­age in­for­ma­tion more ef­fi­ciently.

Boe­ing has made a few sig­na­ture im­prove­ments to re­duce the Radar Cross Sec­tion (RCS) of the Block III to make it even stealth­ier.

F/A-18 Su­per Hor­net, ‘Make in In­dia’

Boe­ing has had a pres­ence in In­dia for more than seven decades. Boe­ing’s pro­posed ‘Make in In­dia’ plans for the Su­per Hor­net is not about mov­ing a pro­duc­tion line but rather build­ing an en­tirely new and state-of-the-art pro­duc­tion fa­cil­ity that can be utilised for other pro­grammes such as 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 op­ti­mis­ing aero­space pro­duc­tion fa­cil­i­ties to bear in both ex­pand­ing In­dia’s aero­space ecosys­tem and help­ing re­alise the Make in In­dia vi­sion. This ad­dresses the in­fras­truc­ture, per­son­nel train­ing, and op­er­a­tional tools and tech­niques re­quired to pro­duce a next to gen fighter air­craft 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 means that air­frame and sub­sys­tem man­u­fac­ture by In­dian in­dus­try will be done in a de­lib­er­ate way, an op­por­tu­nity for tech­nol­ogy in­ser­tion and growth of 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 have had 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, which in­cludes sup­pli­ers who man­u­fac­ture parts for the Su­per Hor­net in In­dia.

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

Pre­sen­ta­tion at the FICCI Sem­i­nar

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