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Boeing's F/A-18E/F Super Hornet represents the future of America's carrier aviation and will, by 2010, form the

backbone of all US Navy carrier air wings (CVWs). By that date at least 38 Super Hornets (24 Es and 1 4 Fs) will provide each CVW with a full-range of strike, fighter, reconnaissance and support missions. The number may be higher, however, depending on upcoming budget decisions affecting the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program and whether an F/A-18F derivative is selected as the EA-6B follow-on. During the OPEVAL report ceremony on 1 5 February 2000, Rear Admiral John Nathman, then-Director, Naval Air Warfare Division, summed up what the Super Hornet brings to the fleet's table: "We believe the Super Hornet, the E/F, to be a decisive strike fighter for the Navy. It brings a fundamental revolution in striking capability to our air wing. When you put this aircraft on our flight decks in numbers and combine it with the joint stand-off munition [JSOW] and the joint direct attack munition [JDAM] and laser-guided weapons, you are going to see an order-ofmagnitude change in the number of targets that we can strike versus the type of wings that we had in Desert Storm."
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The F/A-18E/F completes operational evaluation.

he Super Hornet program has long been a model of success Shortly after its first flight on 29 November 1995, the type began preparing for its Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) testing which began at MAS Patuxent River, Maryland, in February 1996 and concluded on 28 April 1999 After 3,172 flights and 4,673 flight hours, the E/F was ready for the final leg of its journey to the fleet, the Operational Test and Evaluation (OPEVAL) As the F/A-18 E/F now prepares to enter fleet service with the Eagles of Strike Fighter Squadron One Hundred Fifteen (VFA-115), Combat Aircraft takes a look back at the Super Hornet OPEVAL and how the new aircraft compares to its predecessor The Super Hornets rating of 'operationally effective' and 'operationally suitable,' and VX-9's recommendation for introduction to fleet service marked a significant milestone for the aircrafts future and helped secure its initial procurement of 222 aircraft, with as many as 548 to be purchased in the long term

The OPEVAL Process

Conceptually an OPEVAL has a different focus than the EMD flights According to Cdr Dave Dunaway (current F/A-18 Radar IPT Lead AESA Program Manager and former EMD & VX-9 OPEVAL pilot) the EMD period is to test and confirm the aircraft's performance, as well as test new parameters The OPEVAL on the other hand looks to test an aircrafts ability to perform operationally and tactically in a realistic wartime environment Former VX-9 OPEVAL Lead Operational Test Director Cdr Jeff Penfield explains '[We] evaluate the aircraft [in OPEVAL] to determine how it will fit into real world operations Operational pilots look at things differently than flight test pilots If I take a Super Hornet into battle tomorrow, how would the aircraft perform''' The goal of any program heading through an OPEVAL is to receive the highest rating of 'operationally effective and operationally suitable' In laymans terms operationally effective' means that the aircraft is able to perform its prescribed mission in a fleet environment,

opposite page From an aerodynamic point of view, the most obvious new feature of the Super Hornet is its dramatically enlarged leading-edge root extensions (LERXes). With the larger and reprofiled wing of the E/F, the LERX enlargements were necessary to restore the type's instantaneous turn rate (to C/D levels). The four-sided intakes slightly reduce the type's frontal radar cross section but more significant is the use of radarabsorbent material in the intake, and an unusual radar baffle within the intake trunk. above F1 above the deck of the USS Harry S Truman during sea trials in March 1999. Both two-seater prototypes were deployed for the intensive trials period, during which the F demonstrated significantly lower approach speeds than earlier Hornets, and healthier safety margins. right In tests, the Super Hornet has proved to be highly departure-resistant and has demonstrated excellent low-speed, high angle-of-attack characteristics, allowing the introduction of several new maneuvers. In the transonic regime, however, high drag and energy bleed have hampered its air combat capability compared with the C/D. This is tactically insignificant because most air combat occurs in subsonic regimes. Moreover, given that "unloaded" subsonic acceleration performance is excellent, the higher bleed rate may be an advantage, as it allows pilots to reach corner speed faster. below The commanding officer's aircraft is in the foreground as a quartet of VFA-122 Super Hornets practice formation flying near their NAS Lemoore, California base. /photos Boeing)

and in the face of unexpected threats "Operationally suitable" means that the aircraft when operated and maintained by typical fleet personnel in the expected numbers and of the expected experience level, is supportable when deployed, specifically looking at how reliable the aircraft is and the adequacy of the Navy's supporting infrastructure The OPEVAL officially began on 27 May 1999 and concluded on 1 9 November that same year Guidelines for the OPEVAL were based on the 1991 Navy Operation Requirement Document (ORD) for the F/A-18E/F Upgrade The 1 9 9 1 ORD outlined several improvements over the existing F/A-18C/D, including ( 1 ) increased mission radius, (2) increased payload flexibility, (3) increased carrier recovery or "bringback,' (4) increased survivabihty, and (5) decreased vulnerability Improvements in combat performance over the Lot XII F/A-18 C/D (turn rate, climb rate and acceleration) and growth capability for general avionics (electrical, environmental control, flight control and hydromechanical systems) were considered a must As alluded to, the OPEVAL was conducted by Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Nine (VX-9) based at NAWC China Lake, California, using three

F/A-18Es and four F/A-18Fs These aircraft represented the first delivered under the Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) Lot 1 contract, and all incorporated the modifications resulting from EMD The OPEVAL tests were flown by a team

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its weapons for combat All primary missions of the E/F interdiction, war-at-sea, fighter escort, Combat Air Patrol (CAP), alert interceptor Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD), Close Air Support (CAS), tanker, air combat maneuvering (ACM) and Forward Air ControlAirborne (FAC(A)) were evaluated with the exception of reconnaissance which will be evaluated in a subsequent followon OPEVAL Following an initial period where the OPEVAL aircrews familiarized themselves with the aircraft at China Lake the evaluators were ready to go
above Although taken during the EMD flight-test, this photograph demonstrates the significant air-to-air load that can be carried by the E/F. Shown here are eight AIM-120s (stations 3,4,8,9), two AIM-9s (stations 1 , 1 1 ) and two AIM-7s (stations 2,10). Fuselage stations 5 and 7 are also available for air-to-air
weapons. fBoemgl

below One of the many successes of the Super Hornet program has been the significant number of weapon configurations cleared for OPEVAL Twenty-nine were available for VX-9 evaluators and 59 are expected to be cleared before the Super Hornet's maiden operational deployment. Some in the media have criticized configuration "limitations" during OPEVAL, yet the 29 cleared far surpass the two available during the F/A-18A/B OPEVAL in the early 1980s. (Boeing)

Air-to-ground Phase The initial flights began on 27 May at China Lake and involved evaluations of various air-to-air weapons and sensors VX-9 air crews also evaluated the Super Hornet's defense suppression capabilities and began the aircraft s survivabih-

of 1 4 pilots and 9 Weapons Systems Officers (WSOs) who came from diverse backgrounds, including the F/A-18A/ B/C/D, F-14 A-6E, A-7E, and S-3B communities All had a significant amount of flight time and were regarded as outstanding crews Approximately 50 Navy maintenance personnel were assigned to evaluate the aircraft's maintainability during this phase

F/A-18E/F Evaluated "As Is"

One aspect of the OPEVAL that many outside the military may not appreciate is that the F/A-18E/F OPEVAL was performed without reference to any of the new capabilities slated for the Super Hornet such as the Active Electronically Scanned Phased Array (AESA) radar, the AIM-9X off-boresight, air-to-air Sidewinder missile, or the Joint HelmetMounted Cueing System (JHMCS)
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Moreover no consideration was given to prospective systems like the Advanced Tactical FLIP (ATFLIR) or Shared Reconnaissance Pod (SHARP), designed to replace aging legacy systems carried over from the current C/D models Dunaway one of the lead VX-9 OPEVAL test pilots and a liaison to the EMD Integrated Test Team (ITT) described the OPEVAL as like taking an immature aircraft one in its infancy, and pitting it against established threat systems Thus, the aircraft as tested did not represent the full range of the Super Hornets tactical capability

Five-Phase Test Program

The OPEVAL consisted of a five-phase program designed to test the Super Hornet under realistic operating conditions to determine the effectiveness and suitability of the aircraft its systems and

ty testing Twenty-nine weapons configurations for the E/F were cleared for OPEVAL These configurations, however, were representative of those to be fielded when the aircraft joins the fleet Although criticized by some commentators as a shortfall the availability of 29 configurations at this stage in the program highlights the progress that the Super Hornet has made The original Hornet had just two configurations at OPEVAL and it appears that the new F-22 Raptor will have just the AIM-9 Sidewinder and the AIM-120 AMRAAM During this phase, the Super Hornets delivered Mk 82 (500-lb) Mk 83 (1,000Ib) and Mk 84 (2,000-lb) iron bombs, as well as cluster bombs (CBUs) Various range profiles were also flown to verify the flight performance data base The Super Hornets ability to serve as a tanker was also explored as the E/F is

above An F/A-18F prepares for an AGM-88 weapons separation

test during EMD. /Boemg)

intended to become the fleet's next organic tanker and replace the S-3B Viking, which now performs that role Both day and night tanking missions were undertaken, with the Super Hornet performing as expected

Air Combat Phase The Air Combat Phase was conducted during a two-week detachment at MAS Key West, Florida from 14-25 June VX-9 evaluated the Super Hornet in a variety of fighter escort and CAP profiles and ACM regimes, and further assessed tactics and survivabihty Alja Musarro, F/A-18 Systems Development Operations Officer states 'The OPEVAL test period was designed to test specific Critical Operational Issues (COIs) during the detachments to Key West, the carrier and Nellis AFB For the Key West

detachment, the evaluators focused mainly on air-to-air COIs fighter escort and air combat patrols Some scenarios pitted up to four Super Hornets against an equal or larger number of threat adversaries Additionally, mixed sections of Hornet and Super Hornets were flown to compare the performance of the two aircraft under similar conditions ' Musarro added "[The] Tactics COIs specifically tasked the evaluators to determine if the F/A- 18E/F could execute current tactics Adversary services were provided by F-16Cs from the ANG's 185th Fighter Squadron from Sioux City, Iowa, which flew a series of realistic threat tactics emulating the latest-generation MiG-29

Super Hornets operated as a small squadron with other CVW-9 aircraft, allowing evaluators to assess the Super Hornets performance and ability to integrate with other assets A variety of missions were flown by VX-9 crews, including simulated deck-launched intercepts, tanking, mining and war-at-sea strikes Musarro noted that the anti-carrier and mining operations were conducted off the southern California ops area, while the long-range offensive strikes were flown against the Fallon and China Lake ranges Aircrews stated the Super Hornet integrated well and fulfilled all tasked missions Moreover, its greater range and flight time resulted in increased flexibility in the carrier environment during cyclic operations
Combined/Joint Operations The final detachment took place at Nellis AFB Nevada, from 16-27 August During that period, the Super Hornets participated in a Combined/Joint Red Flag Exercise with some 60 aircraft from the Air Force, Marine Corps Navy and several foreign countries (Germany Britain, Canada) These multinational
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Carrier Operations The next phase evaluated the aircraft's flight characteristics around the boat and assessed how it integrated with a CVW during routine operations A detachment from VX-9 took its Super Hornets to the USS John C Stennis (CVN-74) from 12-28 July The first several days were spent qualifying the aircrews During the remaining period, the

exercises created a highly realistic scenario repiesentative of the NATO missions flown today in operations like those over Kosovo Most missions included the expenditure of large quan titles of live and inert ordnance The Super Hornets performance in the strike SEAD fighter escort and mterdic tion roles was evaluated VX-9 aircrews executed weapons deliveries using a variety of realistic profiles involving vary ing altitudes and dive angles Survivability, Air-to-air Missile & Smart Weapons The final stage of the OPEVAL conduct ed at China Lake from September through November 1999 focused on aircraft survivabihty flights Operationally representative flights were flown against

actual and surrogate threat surface-to air missile (SAM) systems followed by air to ground gunnery and air to ground sensor flights Air to ground weapons tested included Mk 80 series iron bombs the Rockeye SLAM Harpoon and Maverick The F/A 18E/Fs new sys terns including the ALE-50 and ALR 67(V)3 when combined with more abun dant expendables assisted in reducing overall susceptibility The additional fuel also proved significant as it allowed use of routing alternatives and lower alti tudes Interestingly it was only during this segment of the OPEVAL that a direct side by-side comparison as delineated in the ORD was made between the E/F and the Lot XII and later F/A 18C Other segments were either quantitative (with a specific number in mind) or qualitative

(where the issue was whether the E/F can execute in the particular mission area) Test data confirmed the E/F was more survivable than the F/A 18C/D The OPEVAL officially came to a close on 1 9 November when Cdr Jeff Penfield made the final flight Over the course of the six month test program some 850 sorties were flown and 1 233 total flight hours were amassed and approximate ly 400 000 Ib of ordnance was expend ed

VX-9 Reports its Findings

As indicated the OPEVAL results were announced during the ceremony at the Pentagon in February 2000 and the VX 9 report found the Super Hornet both operationally effective and operationally suitable and recommended its mtro

above An F/A-18E displays regular VFA-122 markings The unit took over five of VX-9's OPEVAL aircraft to begin training operations in June 2000, and is expected to build to a strength of 40 aircraft right In recognition of the F/A-18F's use as a carrier-based tactical jet, the two-seat variant was used for carrier qualifications The F/A-18B did not participate in carrier qualifications, in part due to fears that such a move would be viewed as a threat by the A-6 Intruder and F-14 Tomcat communities
/photos Boemgl

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duction into fleet service Moreover, Rear Admiral James Godwin III noted 'There were no surprises with what we saw out of the OPEVAL report What we predicted we would see during the developmental testing we had ongoing prior to OPEVAL is precisely what we saw during the OPEVAL Testing often reveals new problems but we did not experience anything that was unexpected "

Areas of Significant Enhancement The OPEVAL found several areas of 'significant enhancement" versus the F/A-18C/D These ranged from increased tactical and payload flexibility

to carrier performance and survivabihty Tactically speaking the ability of the Super Hornet to credibly perform a wide variety of missions creates more options for planning and executing overall missions This tactical flexibility extends to not only the mission planning and execution phases but also to support missions When flying as a tanker the Super Hornet can match the altitude and speed of the strike package thereby permitting optimization of flight profiles and resultant fuel efficiency Payload flexibility addresses the

Super Hornets ability to carry a wider variety and greater number of weapons than the current Hornet The E/F's two additional weapons stations increase mission effectiveness in two ways First more offensive weapons mean an F/A-18E/F can achieve the desired probability of destruction with fewer sorties flown Second, the added weapons stations can be used to carry more self-defense weapons such as AGM-88 High-speed AntiRadiation Missiles (HARMs) or additional air-to-air weapons Both options increase survivabihty and reduce the number of sorties needed to reach a desired result The improved performance in the carrier environment can be traced to two features the Super Hornet's slower approach speed which enhances safety and the aircraft's increased 'bring-back' capability The F/A-18E can recover with an additional 3,400 Ib of ordnance as compared to a Lot XIXF/A-18C and the F/A-18F can recover with an additional 2 400 Ib Such increases are significant for air operations over Iraq and Bosnia where US pilots fly dozens of 'no-fly' zone patrols and routinely return to the carrier with unexpended ordnance Maneuvering and handling qualities were rated high and the aircraft was noted to resist departure even under aggressive high-AoA maneuvering Another enhanced quality is known as 'positive nose pointing," which refers to how fast a pilot can put his aircraft nose on a 'bogie' to take the first shot during most engagements This quality has been described as 'outstanding' by OPEVAL pilots Weapons delivering accuracy was also reported to be 'excellent', exceeding the ORD accura-

above The first prototype F/A-18F cavorts with an F/A-18C from the Naval Air Warfare Center Although outwardly similar to Its predecessor, the Super Hornet is noticeably larger and introduces several important advances. In such costconscious times, arguably its most important advantage is a high "bring-back" capability, allowing it to launch with a full load of expensive weapons and return safely to the carrier without having to jettison any.

right An F/A-18F from VX-9 awaits launch aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) during May

2000, shortly before the official start of OPEVAL.

VX-9 air crews took a short refresher before commencing full operational evaluation flights.
(ion Nordeen)

which is significant considering the current E/F is, in essence, a baseline model that will be grown Additional stores configurations will be cleared and available for the Es first deployment in scheduled follow-on tests and evaluations Indeed one of the mantras of the Super Hornet program has been that the E/F "turns back the growth clock', something clearly demonstrated during OPEVAL Performance-wise the E/F is comparable or superior to the C/D in turns,

climbs and acceleration at subsonic

speeds However transonic/supersonic performance is not as favorable as the C/D and, in common with the C/D the E/F experiences large decelerations (airspeed bleed-off rates) during maneuvering Interestingly despite the media publicity generated during EMD flighttesting concerning the so-called "wing drop" phenomenon, the problem has on public statements made before a Congressional subcommittee, one area of concern voiced by NAVAIR relates to the restrictions placed on the carriage

been rectified (and was prior to OPEVAL) The residual lateral activity
reported by the press was of minimal concern to VX-9 Evaluators also noted, at least from an

above OPEVAL confirmed the Super Hornet's payload advantages and range. Shown here are

examples of various air-to-air and air-to-ground

precision-strike configurations. (Boeing!

and release of certain weapons configurations In his statement on 22 March 2000 to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Airland Forces Subcommittee, Philhp E Coyle III Director Operational Test & Evaluation, noted "Air-to-air missiles could not be

operational suitability perspective, that the 'dirty" underwmg environment

required extra weapons inspections and reduced the life span of the weapons carried by the Super Hornet These observations, however do not detract from the Super Hornets operational

below A VX-9 Super Hornet arrives is about to "trap" aboard the USS John Stennis in July 1999.
IUS Navy!

cy requirements, and achieving equal to or better than those experienced from the F/A-18C using current (OFP 1 1 C and OFP 13C) operational flight programs
Areas of Concern Several areas of concern were identified during the OPEVAL although according to Navy sources most are already being addressed or have been remedied Many of the findings are confidential and unavailable for public review due to their security implications However, based
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employed if they were carried on a store station adjacent to air-to-ground ordnance Numerous munitions could be carried and/or employed only from selected stores stations, although the plan is to bear these munitions from other stations as well Consequently, many of the load advantages planned for the F/A-18 E/F were not demonstrated during OPEVAL ' Nevertheless, many of the configurations presented to OPEVAL were beyond the capabilities of the current F/A-18C,

effectiveness nor it's ability to perform any mission Rather, it means more time has to be spent by maintamers inspecting the aircraft

OPEVAL Validates Key

Performance Parameters (KPPs)
One of the Congressional mandates for the F/A-18E/F program required the E/F to exceed the limited range and payload restrictions associated with the F/A-18A/B/C/D As a result the OR established three Key Performance

right Carrying HARMs, Sidewinders and inert Mk 82 free-fall weapons, an F/A-18E undertakes a weapons test sortie. The view highlights the 4 outward canting of the weapons pylons, a feature adopted by Boeing to solve separation problems The original straight-aligned pylons caused some weapons to collide during release The fix imposed some drag penalties and the pylons had to be strengthened to handle the increased aerodynamic loads. below Representing the future of naval aviation during the early 21st Century, this F/A-18F catapults from the deck of the USS John Stennis (CVN-74).
Iphotos Boeing)

Parameters (KPPs) that addressed the E/Fs range capabilities each with its associated specific flight profiles These included evaluating the E/Fs combat radius in the Fighter Escort mission and Interdiction mission roles the latter with two and three 480-gallon external tanks The Super Hornet exceeded all threshold range requirements, posting a 425nm (787 km) radius in the fighter escort
mission and 400 nm (741 km) and 450

nm (833 km) in the interdiction mission with two and three external tanks respectively Although the Super Hornet had been projected to surpass these threshold requirements by Boeing and Navy officials these numbers which had been based on a flight performance data base constructed from theoretical calculations wind tunnel and engine-run tests and developmental flight test data, were verified by the operational testers VX-9 air crews undertook a calibration of the performance data base by using a 'flight segment' approach Under this

methodology, fuel consumption data was collected in small dedicated portions of many flights using a variety of aircraft configurations gross weights, and flight loads As testament to the methodology employed by Boeing and the Navy deviations between the actual and projected fuel consumption were insignificant and the OPEVAL crews were able to verify the data base numbers as accurate Based on this verification, OPEVAL crews were able to compute the range performance of the F/A-18E/F for the three profiles defined

by the ORD and the nine profiles defined by the CNO The nine CNO-defmed operational missions were computed using a 4 000-lb fuel reserve while the ORD-defmed operational missions were computed using a 2,000-lb reserve
OPEVAL Recommendations Several recommendations stemmed from the OPEVAL the most significant of which seems to be correcting concerns voiced about the under-wmg noise and vibration Addressing such problems is critical as Coyle noted in his statement

to the Senate, because if left uncorrected it can impede the attainment of full weapons life. OPEVAL further recommended the immediate introduction of new systems such as the all-aspect high-off-boresight AIM-9X missile and the Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS), the Advanced Targeting-FLIR (AT-FLIR), a positive identification (PID) capability such as the Combined Interrogator Transmitter (CIT), and further enhancements to the planned Integrated Defensive Electronic Countermeasures (IDECM) system. The Navy further plans incorporation of the electronically scanned array radar (AESA), now designated the APG-79;

V F A - 1 1 5 will make the first Super Hornet cruise aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) in 2002. The second such Super Hornet cruise, which will include the F/A-18F, is scheduled for 2003 aboard the USS A//m/te(CVN 68). WSOs will begin training in April, with the remainder of their squadron starting transition in November. The precise order of transition to the F/A-18E/F is still being determined but priority is being given to squadrons operating older F-14As, F/A-18AS and, finally, F-14Bs and F-14Ds. VF-41 and VF-14 crews will be the first Tomcat squadrons to transition.

Future Growth
below This chart illustrates the increased payload options of the E/F compared with
the C/D. (Boeing)

As noted in the discussion of OPEVAL's recommendations, the Super Hornet has yet to realize its great potential for growth. The OPEVAL report identified numerous legacy systems that must be

decoupled cockpits for enhanced flexibility; and the Multifunction Information Distribution System (MIDS). Each of these systems plays a key role in the overall Super Hornet "road map." Until such systems are fielded, however, the Super Hornet, while certainly a significant improvement over the C/D, will not fully realize its potential nor the operational capabilities for which it was envisioned.

replaced and new systems which must come to fruition in order for the E/F to realize its full combat capability. These systems include development and acquisition of the aforementioned AIM-9X/JHMCS system, A P X - 1 1 1 CIT

include new mission computers to replace the current AYK-14 computers, which have basically run out of memory. These new computers will incorporate commercially-based processors and will bring greater processing power and more memory, and will feature openarchitecture, thereby allowing easy upgrade as new technology evolves. The two MFDs carried over from the C/D will be replaced by an advanced display. The added processing power of the new computers will allow engineers to eliminate the so-called "smart" displays and replace them with "dumb" displays that receive their data from the mission computers via a broadband, high-speed data bus. Another important change provided by the planned Block II upgrade is a new larger 200 x 250 mm color LCD for the rear cockpit. The aft cockpit hand controllers will also be modified to allow the WSO to release weapons. Integration of the IDECM and decoupled cockpits is also essential, as is placing priority on clearing all of the planned stores configurations. The decoupled cockpits, also called independent crew stations, will allow F/A-18F crews to perform air-to-air and air-toground missions simultaneously. This is scheduled for introduction in 2004. Crews using the decoupled system will be able to independently guide and control various weapons and on-board sensors. Also part of the upgrade, MIDS allows integration of secure, jamresistant Link 1 6 , thereby providing Super Hornet crews with off-board sensor data from land-based and air-based platforms like the E-2C Hawkeye. Modifications to the APG-73 will also follow (until AESA is delivered) incorporating RUG II SAP modes for generating highly accurate ground maps. These modes are now available only on the F/A-18D used by the US Marine Corps.

Super Hornet Readies for the Fleet

With the OPEVAL behind it, the Super Hornet is now on the verge of fleet squadron introduction with V F A - 1 1 5 . Since June of this past year, four newly winged pilots headed for V F A - 1 1 5 have been training with VFA-122, the F/A-18E/F Fleet Readiness Squadron (FRS) at NAS Lemoore, California. The remainder of the squadron will begin transition training following return from their current cruise in February 2001.
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Paul Summers, Boeing's F/A-18 New Products Development Manager, has described the baseline E/F avionics as the equivalent of the C/D Block 1 9 standard. This version includes the APG-73 radar, as well as the ability to incorporate MIDS, ATFLIR and the JHMCS. The E/F's avionics and electronics essentially provide a new infrastructure for continued development of the Super Hornet platform. Summers indicated that a Block upgrade is currently planned to begin in 2005, which will incorporate several new avionics features and serve as the baseline for all future Super Hornet derivatives, including the proposed F/A-18G. Plans call for the Block I upgrade to

Combat Aircraft wishes to thank Ellen Lemond-Holman (Boeing); Denise Deon (Navy F/A-18 Public Affairs Officer); Capt. Jeff Wieringa (F/A-18 Program Manager); Rear Admiral James Godwin III, USN (Program Executive Officer, Tactical Aircraft Programs); Cdr. Dave Dunaway, USN (F/A-18E/F AESA Team Leader); Cdr Jeffrey Penfield, USN (VFA-122 FIT); Ned Conger, (Meridian Engineering Division); and Lon Nordeen (Boeing).

The author's new book on the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet will be published in mid2001 by Specialty Press.