Boeing Begins Block III Upgrades On U.S. Navy’s Super Hornets

Super Hornet Block III


Super Hornet Block III
The primary F/A-18 arrives at St. Louis airport to be upgraded from the Block II to the Block III configuration. (Screenshot from Boeing’s video)

The U.S. Navy delivered to Boeing the primary Block II plane that might be upgraded to the brand new Block III configuration.

With a brief video clip launched on social media, Boeing introduced the arrival at its St. Louis amenities of the primary F/A-18 Block II Tremendous Hornet that will be upgraded to the new Block III configuration. The Block III upgrades might be utilized as a part of the Service Life Modernization program, which can add 4,000 flight hours to the service lifetime of the already delivered Tremendous Hornets.

The F/A-18E and F/A-18F at present type the spine of the Provider Air Wings, having the ability to carry out all air-to-air and air-to-ground mission profiles. The U.S. Navy took delivery of its final Block II Super Hornet, the final of 322 single-seat F/A-18E and 286 two-seat F/A-18F jets delivered since 2005, on April 17, 2020. On September 24, 2021, Boeing delivered to the Navy the primary of 78 newly constructed Block III Tremendous Hornets.

The primary section of the SLM program has already been in movement for some years, extending the service lifetime of the Tremendous Hornet from 6,000 to 7,500 flight hours. The second section, which is beginning this yr, is seeking to prolong the service life to 10,000 flight hours and carry out the modifications required for the Block III upgrades.

The important thing capabilities made out there by the brand new variant embrace Superior Cockpit System centered across the 10×19 inch large-area touchscreen show, a sophisticated community infrastructure that includes the Distributed Focusing on Processor Community (DTP-N) and the Tactical Focusing on Community Know-how (TTNT), open mission methods, lowered radar signature, a ten,000-hour airframe, the AN/ASG-34 IRST (Infrared Search-and-Track) and Conformal Gas Tanks (CFT) with an extra 3500 lb gas capability.

There are at present three work traces concerned in this system, two in St. Louis and one on the Fleet Readiness Center Southwest, which may modify as much as 40 plane per yr. Final yr, Rear Adm. Andrew Loiselle, director of Air Warfare Division within the Workplace of the Chief of Naval Operations, talked about that the implementation of greatest practices throughout Section One SLM allowed a 30% % price discount. The preliminary SLM budgeted price per plane was $5.5 million, with a turnaround time of 15-17 months.

The primary F/A-18 Tremendous Hornet fighter plane to endure the Service Life Modification (SLM) process at a naval aviation depot is pictured on the FRCSW testline June 29. The plane, assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106, will endure induction for the SLM that may prolong the airframe’s flight hours from 6,000 to 7,500. The process is estimated to take about 17 months. (U.S. Navy photograph)

“We anticipate continued price financial savings as SLM matures and we’re executing our deliberate transition to full-kit, 10,000-hour SLM inductions if fiscal ’23,” stated Rear Adm. Loiselle. “Full-kit inductions will present full Block III functionality equivalent to new manufacturing plane at one third of the fee, giving us 4,000 extra flying hours, or sufficient to fly for 13 extra years.”

The variety of plane that might be upgraded and see their service life prolonged just isn’t but clear, because the Navy has not but finalized it. The SLM nonetheless might be used to control the availability of the aircraft, ultimately ramping up or cutting down this system in keeping with future budgets, schedules and necessities.

“Proper now, I don’t plan to do SLM on the whole thing of my Block II drive and I don’t plan to do it on my Block I drive,” stated final yr Rear Adm. Loiselle. “If there are modifications sooner or later that require extra capabilities [and] I would like extra Block III plane, then I’ve the power to dial up that rheostat on SLM and have the ability to try this for an extended time frame and to probably use the FRCs [Fleet Readiness Centers] to extend capability for SLM past the at present deliberate 35 per yr.”

Stefano D’Urso is a contract journalist and contributor to TheAviationist primarily based in Lecce, Italy. A graduate in Industral Engineering he is additionally finding out to attain a Grasp Diploma in Aerospace Engineering. Digital Warfare, Loitering Munitions and OSINT methods utilized to the world of navy operations and present conflicts are amongst his areas of experience.


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