As you know, the key components of the formation of the long-range anti-aircraft / missile defense zones A2 / AD around warrants of aircraft carrier strike groups and amphibious and assault landing groups of the US Navy until recently continued to be fighter deck squadrons aviation The US Navy, which has the 4 + / ++ F / A-18C / D Hornet and F / A-18E / F Block I / II multi-purpose carrier-based fighter aircraft, as well as the US Marine Corps fighter-assault squadrons, which are multi-role operators short-range / vertical take-off and landing subsonic AV-8B “Harrier II Plus”.
On the potential of Super Hornets and Lightnings at the present stage
In conjunction with long-range and ultra-long-range guided air combat missiles AIM-120C-7 and AIM-120D AMRAAM, which have an effective interception range of 70-110 km (when starting from low altitudes) and 110-170 (when starting from high), the above machines to intercept the widest range of enemy air attacks on distant approaches (650-1000 km, taking into account the range of the Super Hornets and Harriers) to the orders of the AUG and ADG of the US Navy, 3,5-4 times higher than the maximum range of ultra-long-range two-stage of anti-aircraft guided missiles RIM-174 ERAM (SM-6 Block IA), which form the basis of the ammunition of universal vertical launchers Mk 41 VLS, included in the architecture of combat information and control systems "Aegis Baseline 9.1".
Moreover, if the AV-65B “Harrier II Plus” multi-purpose attack aircraft equipped with outdated AN / APG-8 radars based on slit antenna arrays are unable to independently confront promising tactical aircraft of the enemy of the transitional and 5th generations and to carry out early warning of approaching stealth anti-ship long-range missiles relying either on the target designation of the Advanced Hawkeye E-2D AWACS or on the successful use of the HOJ mode (pointing to the source of radiation of electronic interference in the case of aviation enemy), with advanced AN / APG-79 high-energy onboard AFAR-radar carrier-based fighter aircraft, one can be considered quite self-sufficient units in the performance of long-range air combat missions with such 4 ++ generation aircraft as the J-15S Chinese carrier-based multi-role fighters.
This ability is due to the presence in the radio-electronic architecture of the AN / APG-79 radars individually controlled transmitting and receiving modules based on high-energy low-noise gallium nitride microwave transistors and attenuators, which allow not only to achieve high noise immunity and to mitigate the interference from container electronic warfare systems of Chinese J -15S through the formation of radiation pattern dips in the direction of interference radiation sources, but also to realize high-energy modes fu ktsionirovaniya allowing APG-79 radar to detect targets with 12-15 sq effective reflecting surface. m (carrier-based fighter J-15S and Su-33) at a distance of nearly 200 km.
Meanwhile, the morally and technically obsolete multi-purpose attack aircraft AV-8B “Harrier II +” with their ancient APG-65 radars and much more advanced “Super Hornets” unite at once two significant tactical and technical flaws inherent in most fighters of the 4th and transition generations. Firstly, this is the inability to fly even at a low supersonic cruising speed (of the order of 1,1-1,2 M), which significantly reduces the likelihood of an early interception of enemy missile carriers before they reach the launch lines of promising hypersonic anti-ship missiles (for example, the 3M22 Zircon modification adapted to launch from the suspension nodes of the Tu-22M3 long-range bomber). Secondly, the effective scattering surface, reaching 1,5 square meters. m for F / A-18E / F (with weapons on the nodes of the suspension) and 3-5 square meters. m for the AV-8B +, respectively, which turns these fighters into excellent targets for the Su-35S multi-functional heavy fighters capable of detecting Shtatov aircraft at a distance of 270 and 450 km, respectively, and then begin intercepting them with the latest Product-180 long-range air combat missiles pre-production samples of which are already being prepared for field tests as part of the program for updating the ammunition of promising stealth fighters of the Su-57 family.
As for the 5th generation F-35B STOVL and F-35C CV deck multipurpose fighters, which have recently become the subject of great expectations both in the circles of senior Lockheed Martin representatives and in the US Navy and ILC commands, their prospects as a worthy replacement for the same Boeing F / A-18E / F Block II (not to mention the 3rd "Block") every day they become more foggy.
Just what is the information voiced by an expert of the Hudson Institute and a retired US Navy officer Brian Clarke during an interview with Defense News journalists at the end of December 2019! In particular, we are talking about a slow but sure loss of the size of a radio-absorbing coating based on a ferromagnet (with a sharp increase in the image intensifier from 0,2 to 0,5 sq. M and more), as well as partial damage to a critically important distributed antenna aperture, represented by passive aerials of radio intelligence of the airborne defense complex AN / ASQ-239 "Barracuda" in the tail of the glider during the flight of the F-35B / C even at low supersonic speed. Consequently, in light of the restrictions on flight even with a low supersonic cruising speed (barely "squeezed" by the Lightning at the "maximum" operating mode of the F135-PW-600/400 turbojet engine), no radical advantages naval "Thirty-fifths" before the Super Hornets is not necessary.