Boeing could put forward its Block 3 F/A-18 Super Hornet for the Finnish air force competition, assuming the recapitalisation lines up with Boeing’s Block 3 production for the US Navy.
Earlier this month, the US Navy signed an agreement to upgrade the service’s Super Hornet fleet to the Block 3 configuration. The potential configuration could include conformal fuel tanks, infrared search and track (IRST21), a centreline pod with an infrared telescope, and advanced cockpit, Boeing says.
The proposed configuration could be introduced in the early 2020s and built on the same line as the legacy Super Hornet – much like E, F and G models, FlightGlobal has previously reported.
“The timing of where we believe the development would match where the Finnish Hornets would be in the production line put it clearly in the Block 3,” Boeing Defense, Space & Security vice-president of global sales Gene Cunningham said at the show this week.
Cunningham cautions that Boeing has not defined when production will begin because the Navy must first determine which capabilities will go on the Block 3 Super Hornet. The Finnish air force has no limitations on the competition yet and Boeing expects a request for proposals around 2019, he says.
Meanwhile, Boeing met with Swiss officials this week at Le Bourget to discuss Switzerland's recapitalisation of its aging F-5s and Boeing F/A-18C/Ds. Boeing is taking another stab at Switzerland, after withdrawing from a previous Swiss fighter competition in 2008. But Cunningham argues that the environment is different this time.
"The approach that the Swiss are taking is a very open and transparent process," he says. "That brings a lot of flexibility to the offerors and it will be a very interesting competition."
Boeing sees the Swiss recapitalisation falling along the same timeframe as the Finnish competition, he adds.