Boeing is expected to deliver its first F/A-18 Block III Super Hornet newest highly capable, affordable and available tactical aircraft in 2020, a senior official said during the Sea Air Space Exposition at the Gaylord National Convention Center in National Harbor.
Boeing has developed the Block III Super Hornet to complement existing and future U.S. Navy and allies air wing capabilities.
An advanced version of the U.S. Navy’s primary strike and air superiority aircraft currently has passed series tests of next-generation conformal fuel tanks, the advanced cockpit system, and infrared search and track.
The Block III enhancements included the installation of plumbing and mounts for upper fuselage conformal fuel tanks – development of which was founded in February 2018, optical fibre wiring to support new generation sensors and weapons, a new Tactical Targeting Networking Technology datalink, and a new Distributed Targeting Processor-Networked computer.
The Block III configuration adds capability upgrades that include enhanced network capability, longer range, reduced radar signature, an advanced cockpit system and an enhanced communication system.
“The initial focus of this program will extend the life of the fleet from 6,000 to 9,000 flight hours,” early said Mark Sears, SLM program director. “But SLM will expand to include Block II to Block III conversion, systems grooming and reset and O-level maintenance tasks designed to deliver a more maintainable aircraft with an extended life and more capability. Each of these jets will fly another 10 to 15 years, so making them next-generation aircraft is critical.”
Boeing will begin converting existing Block II Super Hornets to Block III early in the next decade. The fighter’s life also will be extended from 6,000 hours to 9,000 hours.
With a three-year contract award in March 2019 for 78 F/A-18 Block III Super Hornets, Boeing will play a vital role in the U.S. Navy’s fleet modernization efforts.
Also reported that the Defense Department is asking Congress for $2 billion in fiscal 2020 budget for 24 F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet fighters.