AERO INDIA: Boeing underlines Super Hornet's 'proven capability'

Bangalore
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The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet's proven combat capability and reduced total ownership costs are Boeing's key discriminators in India's medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) competition, the company says.

"We absolutely believe that the Super Hornet is an ideal weapon system as a complement to the [Indian air force's Sukhoi] Su-30," says Kory Matthews, vice-president F/A-18 and EA-18G programmes for Boeing Military Aircraft. "Multi-role capability is at the sweet-spot of this fighter."

Matthews notes that the US Navy's Super Hornet fleet is currently being flown at a rate of around 120,000h per year, and that over 100,000h has already been amassed under combat conditions. Crucially for the US Hornet industry team here this week - which also includes GE Aviation and Raytheon - the type's APG-79 is the only combat-proven active electronically scanned array radar in the contest, he says.

boeing f/a-18 e/f super hornet, billypix
 © Billypix

In terms of through-life costs, the USN's operation of the F/A-18E/F has shown the type to be "highly reliable and with excellent maintainability", Matthews says. For example, an average of just 12 maintenance man hours are currently required per flight hour, he adds.

With India expected to issue a shortlist within the next few months to narrow its current six-strong field for the MMRCA programme, Matthews speculates that it could pick three of the twin-engine candidates to advance to the next phase. "We've offered a fully compliant proposal with the Super Hornet, and believe it's ideally suited," he says.

The F/A-18F Super Hornet flying at the show each day is doing so with what the Boeing official describes as an "operationally-relevant" weapons load. Totalling almost 1,220kg (4,000lb), this includes two each of Raytheon's AIM-9X and AIM-120 air-to-air missiles and two Mk 82-series bombs.