Friday, April 22, 2011

Potential JSF Customers Inquire About Super Hornet

SOURCE AVIATION WEEK “A number of potential Joint Strike Fighter customers” have asked for information about the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, according to Boeing Military Aircraft President Chris Chadwick.
“We see customers trying to recapitalize their tactical fighter forces and balancing that with huge budget pressures, and trying to make the best decisions going forward,” Chadwick says.
Boeing sees potential to extend the Super Hornet production line to 1,000 aircraft by 2020, company officials said April 20 as the 500th member of the Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler family was delivered to the U.S. Navy.
Current and planned orders for the Navy and Australia total just fewer than 700 aircraft, including 41 additional Navy aircraft announced earlier this year to mitigate the effect of JSF delays. Middle Eastern countries are among those expressing interest; they do not include Saudi Arabia.
Chadwick calls the Super Hornet a “low-risk, low-cost, known-time offering worldwide,” and Boeing officials repeatedly observed that Super Hornets are all being delivered “on cost and ahead of schedule” — a not-so-subtle reference to delays and overruns in the JSF program.
Boeing’s strategy, Chadwick says, is based on the idea that “what the customer wants is next-generation technology, when it’s available and as soon as it can be incorporated. We have an approach that allows rapid integration of technology into the platform.”
The Hornet international options package, shown at the April 20 event, exemplifies this approach. The options include a centerline weapons pod, with radar signatures compatible with an otherwise clean Super Hornet, conformal tanks accommodating 3,000 lb. of fuel, a chin-mounted integrated search-and-track system and all-round missile and laser warning, as well as a new big-screen cockpit.
Kory Mathews, Super Hornet program vice president, confirmed that Boeing and General Electric will offer the Enhanced Performance Engine (EPE) variant of the F414 for India’s Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft competition. The EPE uses an advanced core demonstrated with GE and U.S. government funding since the early 2000s and an improved higher-airflow fan, and delivers up to 26,500 lb. of thrust.

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