Boeing and Northrop Grumman have demonstrated that improvements to the Super Hornet have halved the aircraft’s visibility on radar and have significantly extended its combat range.
After three week of flight testing of the Advanced Super Hornet, the F/A-18 program partners tested conformal fuel tanks (CFT), an enclosed weapons pod and radar signature enhancements. Improvements to the aircraft’s radar signature, including the enclosed pod, resulted in a 50 percent reduction compared to the US Navy’s stealth requirement for the current Super Hornet variant. The tests also showed that the CFTs increase the jet’s combat radius by up to 130nm, for a total combat radius of more than 700nm.
“Even though we added components to the aircraft, their stealthy, low-drag design will enhance the combat capability and survivability of the Super Hornet on an aircraft that has a combat-proven history launching and recovering from aircraft carriers,” said Mike Wallace, the Boeing F/A-18 test pilot who flew the Advanced Super Hornet configuration.
Boeing said the improvements “can be affordably retrofitted on an existing Block II Super Hornet aircraft or included on a new jet.”
Boeing and program partners are making further investments in Super Hornet capabilities and systems, including internal Infrared Search and Track, an enhanced performance engine and a next-generation cockpit with a large touch screen display.