F/A-18 Super Hornets

The US Navy is awarding Boeing with a $687.5 million contract for procurement of 14 single seat F/A-18E multirole combat aircraft along with one twin-seat F/A-18F variant of the Super Hornet. The latest Lot 36 production contract for fiscal year 2012 is being executed as part of the multi-year III production agreement. Under the agreement a total of 69 single seat F/A-18E and 21 twin seats F/A-18F aircraft have now been funded for production.

Operational since 2002, the F/A-18-E/-F is currently being marketed under its latest incarnation designated Block II. The Block II upgrade, operational since April of 2005 implements most advanced integrated and networked warfighting technologies concepts designed to keep the F/A-18-E/F Super Hornet platform relevant for all types of contingencies until 2035. The aircraft is now relying on the most advanced sensors to perform its mission. Its primary sensor is the long range, agile electronically-steered X-band APG-79 (Active Electronically Scanned Array) AESA radar antenna which allows simultaneous real time air-to-air/air-to-ground radar detection mode with minimal exposure to enemy radar locator systems. The AN/ASQ-228 Advanced Tactical Forward Looking Infra Red ATFLIR sensor ensures improved delivery of laser-guided air-to-ground ammunition. The Joint Helmet Mounted Ceueing System JHMCS offers Infra Red/ heat seeking targeting and homing capability at high off-bore sight angles during dog fights. A full complement of defensive/protective equipment incorporates the ALR-67(V)3 digital Radar Warning Receiver, AN/ALQ-214 Integrated Defensive Counter Measure IDECM and ALE-55 Towed Decoys. Communications for tactical command and control in a networked environment is ensured by the Multi Functional Information Distribution Systems MIDS which allow the F/A-18E/-F to remain ‘connected’ to various joint ‘assets’ using the HAVE QUICK, SINCGARS and Link 16 tactical communication and information sharing media.

With its 11 hardpoints (including 6 under wing pylons) provides reliable and robust vector for the conduct of modern condition air-to-ground and air-to-air missions scenario. In air-to-ground mode, the Super Hornet systems are interfaced with the latest weapons including the precision air-to-ground Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation System-based JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition). The ATFLIR laser-designated Paveway Laser Guided Bombs also come into play for air-to-ground , all weather precision bombing. Air-to-air engagements which are now dominated by the Beyond Visual Range envelope are conducted with the AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile. The Super Hornet can still revert to its 20 mm cannon in the event of close encounter. Having retained dominant dog fighting capabilities thanks to the helmet-mount JHMCS sights, the Super Hornet can alo fire the most agile sidewinder yet; the AIM-9X.

As of January 1st 2012, Boeing had delivered a total of 482 F/A-18-E/-F aircraft including 201 single seats -E models, 257 two-seats -F models to the US Navy plus another 24 -F models to the Royal Australian Air Force.

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