Boeing comes to Farnborough eyeing its first F/A-18 Super Hornet sale to a European military after the type's production line gains a new lease of life from orders last year from the US Navy – and a $1.5 billion commitment from Kuwaiti air force last month.
The company believes the Super Hornet's price makes the aircraft a compelling pitch for nations looking for an affordable fourth-generation fighter with the upgrades that come via its Block III variant, including an extended lifespan and enhanced electronics.
Finland, Germany Switzerland, Poland, Bulgaria, Canada and India are expressing interest in the F/A-18 Super Hornet, says Boeing. Finland and Germany are also interested in the electronic warfare variant of the fighter, the EA-18G Growler.
"We think we’ve always had a good, compelling story for the Super Hornet internationally and Block III just enhances that," said Dan Gillian, vice-president of F/A-18 and EA-18G programmes. "The legacy of the platform is [its] continuous updates to stay ahead of the threat."
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The Super Hornet’s Block III upgrades include an extended range, which comes from its internal conformal fuel tanks, added stealthy characteristics, increased network bandwidth and incorporates an airframe that is reinforced to last an additional 3,000h of flight time – bringing the aircraft's total lifespan to 9,000h, says Gillian.
The Block III version of the aircraft also comes with what Boeing calls its Advanced Cockpit System, a glass cockpit that has a 10 x 19in touchscreen display.
"The Advanced Cockpit System changes the user interface so that the aircrew can see things differently and change the way they operate. Think about it as an iPad for your airplane," says Gillian. "Now you have a 10 x 19in canvas. You can absorb a lot more information."