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Structural mods to extend US Navy Super Hornet service life

written by australianaviation.com.au | March 2, 2018

An F/A-18F Super Hornet of VFA-2 lands aboard the USS Carl Vinson late last month. (US Navy)

The United States Navy has awarded Boeing a US$73m (A$94m) contract to begin extending the service lives of its F/A-18E/F Super Hornet aircraft.
The service life modification (SLM) upgrade is a key element of the emerging Super Hornet Block III enhancement package, and will see the aircraft’s airframe life extended from 6,000 hours to more than 9,000 flight hours.
While details of the SLM upgrade weren’t revealed, they reportedly include various doublers, new material components and corrosion inhibitors installed across key structural areas of the aircraft. These enhancements are far subtler than the invasive centre-barrel replacement (CBR) program undergone by hundreds of US Navy and Marine Corps, Canadian and Australian F/A-18A-D classic Hornets last decade.
“The initial focus of this program will extend the life of the fleet from 6,000 to 9,000 flight hours,” Boeing SLM program director Mark Sears said.
“But SLM will expand to include Block II to Block III conversion, systems grooming and reset and O-level maintenance tasks designed to deliver a more maintainable aircraft with an extended life and more capability. Each of these jets will fly another 10 to 15 years, so making them next-generation aircraft is critical.”
Boeing has previously pitched the SLM process as an ideal time for the US Navy to begin the incorporation of other proposed Block III enhancements for the Super Hornet.
These proposed upgrades include but are not restricted to the installation of plumbing and mounts for upper fuselage conformal fuel tanks (CFTs), development of which was funded in mid-February, optical fibre wiring to support new generation sensors and weapons, the new Tactical Targeting Networking Technology (TTNT) datalink and Distributed Targeting Processor-Networked (DTP-N) computer, integration of the ALQ-214 Integrated Defensive Electronic Countermeasures (IDECM) Block IV EW suite, a new 10” x 19” large screen cockpit display, enhancements to the APG-79 AESA radar, and further improvements to the aircraft’s radar cross section.
The Super Hornet Block III could incorporate a new 10” x 19” large screen cockpit display as first proposed for Boeing’s Advanced Super Hornet concept. (Boeing)

Also funded and due to enter service in 2019 is a new centre-line auxiliary fuel tank which incorporates an upgraded Lockheed Martin AAS-42 infrared search and track sensor, dubbed IRST21 Block 2.
The first SLM Super Hornet is expected to be inducted into Boeing’s St Louis factory in April, while new-build aircraft incorporating the SLM enhancements will begin rolling off the line by the end of the year.
The US Navy operates 568 Super Hornets and about 120 Growlers, of which all but the first 130 F/A-18E/Fs are Block II aircraft which are equipped with a new forward fuselage with the APG-79 radar and other enhancements.

Steer your own in-flight experience – available on print and digital Whether our classic glossy magazine in your letterbox, daily news updates in your inbox, peeling back a few layers in the podcast or our monthly current affair reports, you can count on us to keep you up to date. Sign up today for just $99.95 for more exclusive offers here. Subscribe now at australianaviation.com.au.

7 Comments

  • Paul

    says:

    Looks great and still more room for improvement. Very attractive to overseas operators now.

  • Paul

    says:

    Another thing, having the single display and upgraded APG 79 and EPEs and the rest, would be one hell of a jet. Hopefully the RAAF go down this path. Having the F-35 and upgraded Rhinos we should be a force to fear. Roger that and bring it on!!!!!!!

  • thomas ellul

    says:

    If a f16 can give these fighters a run for their money, continual upgrades to keep the S’hornets running is only a stop gap. I think that building a slightly larger fighter based on the raptor (such as dual C’pit) ight work. The hornets oif all versions have outl lived their use by date.

  • breeder

    says:

    is this necessary because of deficiencies with the f 35? I think so.

  • Paul

    says:

    Breeder, I would be happy with the new upgraded super as well,

  • Beepa

    says:

    F14 was still a better fleet defence fighter than the Super….F14 also had IRST as standard, F18 is only just now getting it, in a pod……..and people say the F35 has deficiencies…duh

  • Paul

    says:

    I can’t believe how people say the Rhino is outdated? Having a full one piece LCD cockpit CFTs for more weapon carriage, more RCS reductions and brand new EPE engines and the rest, how could this not still be relevant in 25 years? Added with all the multi roles it can do is very very impressive. Even the upgraded classic is still serving us well. Complement your Force with these and all the other enablers and do it right, you will still be punching above your weight.!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Structural mods to extend US Navy Super Hornet service life

written by australianaviation.com.au | March 2, 2018

An F/A-18F Super Hornet of VFA-2 lands aboard the USS Carl Vinson late last month. (US Navy)

The United States Navy has awarded Boeing a US$73m (A$94m) contract to begin extending the service lives of its F/A-18E/F Super Hornet aircraft.
The service life modification (SLM) upgrade is a key element of the emerging Super Hornet Block III enhancement package, and will see the aircraft’s airframe life extended from 6,000 hours to more than 9,000 flight hours.
While details of the SLM upgrade weren’t revealed, they reportedly include various doublers, new material components and corrosion inhibitors installed across key structural areas of the aircraft. These enhancements are far subtler than the invasive centre-barrel replacement (CBR) program undergone by hundreds of US Navy and Marine Corps, Canadian and Australian F/A-18A-D classic Hornets last decade.
“The initial focus of this program will extend the life of the fleet from 6,000 to 9,000 flight hours,” Boeing SLM program director Mark Sears said.
“But SLM will expand to include Block II to Block III conversion, systems grooming and reset and O-level maintenance tasks designed to deliver a more maintainable aircraft with an extended life and more capability. Each of these jets will fly another 10 to 15 years, so making them next-generation aircraft is critical.”
Boeing has previously pitched the SLM process as an ideal time for the US Navy to begin the incorporation of other proposed Block III enhancements for the Super Hornet.
These proposed upgrades include but are not restricted to the installation of plumbing and mounts for upper fuselage conformal fuel tanks (CFTs), development of which was funded in mid-February, optical fibre wiring to support new generation sensors and weapons, the new Tactical Targeting Networking Technology (TTNT) datalink and Distributed Targeting Processor-Networked (DTP-N) computer, integration of the ALQ-214 Integrated Defensive Electronic Countermeasures (IDECM) Block IV EW suite, a new 10” x 19” large screen cockpit display, enhancements to the APG-79 AESA radar, and further improvements to the aircraft’s radar cross section.
The Super Hornet Block III could incorporate a new 10” x 19” large screen cockpit display as first proposed for Boeing’s Advanced Super Hornet concept. (Boeing)

Also funded and due to enter service in 2019 is a new centre-line auxiliary fuel tank which incorporates an upgraded Lockheed Martin AAS-42 infrared search and track sensor, dubbed IRST21 Block 2.
The first SLM Super Hornet is expected to be inducted into Boeing’s St Louis factory in April, while new-build aircraft incorporating the SLM enhancements will begin rolling off the line by the end of the year.
The US Navy operates 568 Super Hornets and about 120 Growlers, of which all but the first 130 F/A-18E/Fs are Block II aircraft which are equipped with a new forward fuselage with the APG-79 radar and other enhancements.

Steer your own in-flight experience – available on print and digital Whether our classic glossy magazine in your letterbox, daily news updates in your inbox, peeling back a few layers in the podcast or our monthly current affair reports, you can count on us to keep you up to date. Sign up today for just $99.95 for more exclusive offers here. Subscribe now at australianaviation.com.au.

7 Comments

  • Paul

    says:

    Looks great and still more room for improvement. Very attractive to overseas operators now.

  • Paul

    says:

    Another thing, having the single display and upgraded APG 79 and EPEs and the rest, would be one hell of a jet. Hopefully the RAAF go down this path. Having the F-35 and upgraded Rhinos we should be a force to fear. Roger that and bring it on!!!!!!!

  • thomas ellul

    says:

    If a f16 can give these fighters a run for their money, continual upgrades to keep the S’hornets running is only a stop gap. I think that building a slightly larger fighter based on the raptor (such as dual C’pit) ight work. The hornets oif all versions have outl lived their use by date.

  • breeder

    says:

    is this necessary because of deficiencies with the f 35? I think so.

  • Paul

    says:

    Breeder, I would be happy with the new upgraded super as well,

  • Beepa

    says:

    F14 was still a better fleet defence fighter than the Super….F14 also had IRST as standard, F18 is only just now getting it, in a pod……..and people say the F35 has deficiencies…duh

  • Paul

    says:

    I can’t believe how people say the Rhino is outdated? Having a full one piece LCD cockpit CFTs for more weapon carriage, more RCS reductions and brand new EPE engines and the rest, how could this not still be relevant in 25 years? Added with all the multi roles it can do is very very impressive. Even the upgraded classic is still serving us well. Complement your Force with these and all the other enablers and do it right, you will still be punching above your weight.!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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