Any decisions about flight testing further variations of the F/A-18E/F will take place in 2012, says Boeing. Wind tunnel testing of the upgraded Super Hornet, called the International Roadmap version, is anticipated later this year. Flight testing is contingent on customer interest; thus far no nations have purchased the new version, unveiled last year.

"We have offered in some instances," says Chris Chadwick, president of Boeing Military Aircraft, "so for example, the enhanced performance engine is baseline in our offer in India, because that aligns with what they want this aircraft to perform."

The International Roadmap includes a variety of options, including up-rated engines, panoramic display, conformal fuel tanks and an infrared search and track sensor. The concept was unveiled at the Farnborough airshow last year, and a mock-up displayed at Aero-India in February.

"I can tell you that a number of potential F-35 customers have asked for information, so that they can make the best decision going forward should they need to go in a different direction," Chadwick says.

Several Middle Eastern nations are "in various stages of evaluations" of the Super Hornet, Chadwick says. Though Boeing has not released the identities of or features offered to those nations, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates are among the possible buyers in the region.

Source: Flight International