Boeing shows off new Super Hornet display

Boeing is showing off some of the advanced features it isproposing for the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. Some of these include conformal fueltanks, an external weapons pod to reduce the jet’s radar cross-section, betterengines, and a new missile warning system among other improvements.


Inside the cockpit (both cockpits in the case of theF-model) is a new single-screen color LCD display. But what is truly impressiveis a new 3D situational awareness display mode–it overlays various threats anddisplays them in an easy to understand graphic. Terrain can be overlaid on thedisplay along with color-coded contours.


What’s more, airborne enemy threats are displayed as color-codedaircraft-shaped icons appropriate to their type. The same goes for theengagement radius of surface-to-air missile systems and the like. Apparently,according to the Boeing engineer who was showing me the setup, the jet alreadycollects that data, it’s just that there is no way to display it in the currentBlock II cockpit.


Here are a few images I took of the cockpit the company wasshowing off at the Navy League’s Sea Air Space Exposition. Forgive the poor quality;I was using a Blackberry camera…


 Sorry the flash caused some problems…


Anyways, the demonstrator actually runs the realflight-model for the F/A-18E/F according to the Boeing software engineer, whoworks on the system. But it doesn’t model the new engines or other proposedmods and, of course, the avionics and weapons are dumbed down for publicdisplay.


Nonetheless, when I flew the demonstrator, the aircrafthandled remarkably well (at least compared to anything I have flown).Incidentally, using that 3D situational awareness display, I shot down threeFlankers with AMRAAMs effortlessly, but of course, they weren’t shooting back.I then killed the last one with the gun, again, a piece of cake…  but alas, it was dumbed down since hewasn’t shooting back.


But I did land on the carrier with no help whatsoever oreven having the dude talk me down on my first (and only try). I wonder if itwas dumbed down, even if my engineer acquaintance insists that it’s not. TheBoeing demo pilots practice on it, he says. Still seems too easy…


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