Sunday, April 28, 2019

US Navy sees the Super Hornet filling the same role as the F-35...flying node in the kill chain....

Thanks to Super Rhino for the link!

via FlightGlobal.
Boeing says it has enough business from the US Department of Defense, as well as international customers such as Kuwait, to maintain continuous Block III production until 2033.
 While the service still has plans to order many more F-35s, it is becoming apparent that it no longer sees stealth technology as a cure-all. Instead, it is buying a mix of aircraft, with no expiration date in sight for classic fighters such as the F/A-18E/F. The US Air Force is pursuing a similar policy by buying Boeing F-15EXs.
 "Being that stealthy didn't help us close the kill chain for the navy nearly as effectively as being a networked fighter," says Dan Gillian, programme manager for the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler. "Things like an internal [infrared search and track] or an enclosed weapons pod, they kind of fell to the bottom of the list."

NAVAIR did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Instead of more stealth, the Block III aircraft is essentially a flying and heavily armed node in the USN's network. It comes with an advanced processor, called the Distributed Targeting Processor-Networked (DTP-N) computer and a robust communications link from Rockwell Collins, called Tactical Targeting Network Technology (TTNT). The cockpit also has a large 21in touchscreen display. The aircraft's computer hardware is designed to run next-generation sensors and software, says Gillian.

"It is a very large open-architecture computer, about 17 times more powerful than the mission computer in the platform today, that is open so you can bring apps to the airplane, bring capabilities on board rapidly," he says.

The aircraft's computer systems, with the addition of new software, are capable of controlling Loyal Wingman unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) such ast the Airpower Teaming System that Boeing is co-developing with the Australian government, says Gillian. The aircraft's back-seat weapons systems officer could fly a group of Loyal Wingman UAVs, he says.

Block III Super Hornets also come with an external Block II Infrared Search and Track (IRST) sensor, which, when used by two aircraft at once, can create a targeting solution for an air-to-air missile. Boeing declines to say what the IRST's range is, but claims it is longer than adversaries' air-to-air radar. The new aircraft also have shoulder-mounted conformal fuel tanks, which reduce drag and carry about 1,588kg (3,500lb) of fuel, extending its range by about 120nm (222km).
This is freaking HUGE!

The Super Hornet is the airplane that will carry the Navy into the future and the plane that the USMC should buy to fulfill its carrier responsibilities!  It will be cheaper to operate and if even HALF THE STATED CAPABILITIES are real then it will fit perfectly into USMC concepts being bandied about.

Sensor fusion...flying computer....node in the kill chain....long range...the Super Hornet covers all the bases except for stealth which NAVAIR apparently isn't all that sold on.

Oh and one last thing.  Am I correct in stating that the IRST being mounted on the Super Hornet is degrees better than the one in the F-35?

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