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Monday, April 4, 2016

US Navy Eyeing the New Super Hornet Block III instead of F-35

(Franco Iacch)

The US Navy has a strong interest in Super Hornet Block III, now ready for production after a five-year phase-term development. As is known, the US Navy is expected to conclude the acquisition of the Hornet line in two years, with the last sixteen F-18, with equally shared funding in fiscal year 2017/2018.

Since 2019, the Navy should divert the funds for the new fleet F-35C. This process could be upset by the new Super Hornet Block III. The reasons are manifold. Meanwhile, the US Navy has never shown fully satisfied with the F-35C, preferring by far the experience, reliability and low operating cost of the unit and Hornet.

Then the US Navy, is focused on the future and its next generation fighter, only this once developed for the US Navy, the F / A-XX, long-range platform that should fly between 15-20 years. In between, the improvements of the Advanced Super Hornet program, for a semi stealth fighter totally different from what operated its first flight in November 1978. It 'a platform that introduces measures to reduce the radar cross-section is redesigned to extend' autonomy with the new Conformal Fuel Tanks for a radius greater than 700 nautical miles and armed with weapons Enclosed Pod, low observability pod to internally carry weapons.

The reduction of the radar signature is estimated at 50 percent less than the current variant of the Super Hornet.

The Conformal Fuel Tanks cancel the aerodynamic drag of the detachable wing tanks, increasing the autonomy and further improving the low observability.

The Enclosed Weapons Pod is designed to carry, without affecting the radar signature, six Small Diameter Bomb and two air-to-air missiles AMRAAM medium-range or two Paveway guided bombs and two AMRAAM or an equivalent load of 1,179 kg.

Using the rapid prototyping processes, Northrop Grumman has completed the design and assembly of tanks in less than 10 months. Both the F / A-18 that the variant of electronic attack, the EA-18G will benefit of Conformal Fuel Tanks that add 3,500 pounds of additional fuel.

The Block III will also include: improvements in the apparatus driving with General Electric F414-440 that increase the pressure by 20 percent, the Spherical Missile Warning Capability, which gives full of missile warning capabilities, the latest generation cockpit, AESA radar and a internal system of infrared search IRST the Super Hornet Block III could perform most of the missions imagine for the F-35C, except for stealth penetration into enemy territory and the consequent release of weapons systems projects for stealth.

Considering the needs and the operating theaters, the US Navy would need for a long-haul carrier and not a short-range tactical fighter.

Super Hornet and F / A-XX, however, require a sacrifice: 260 F-35C provided for the US Navy. The Navy of the United States, unlike Marine and Air Force, could still make that choice theory, that the Pentagon hardly authorize.

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