Military Review

Project Of Special Importance: US Navy Prepares To Receive F / A-18E / F Block III Aircraft


Latest Serial F / A-18E Block II

Not so long ago, Boeing completed the production and delivery of the F / A-18E / F Super Hornet Block II series fighter-bombers. Now the construction of aircraft of the new Block III version has been launched. The first vehicles of this series left the assembly shop a few days ago, and will soon begin service in one of the squadrons of the U.S. Navy. They will soon be followed by new ones.

Previous series

The F / A-18E / F Block II project was created in the first half of the 2005s, and in 2 mass production started. The Boeing company regularly transferred new aircraft to the customer, but now their production has been stopped. The last car of the XNUMXnd series was handed over the fleet several weeks ago.

On April 17, an act was signed on the transfer of the F / A-18E aircraft with the serial number "E322", completing the Block II series. To date, the machine has been transferred to the 34th Marine Fighter Bomber Squadron aviation and getting ready for a full service.

One of the first Block III aircraft

From 2005 to 2020, the manufacturing company handed over to the Navy 322 single-seat aircraft F / A-18E and 286 double-seat aircraft F / A-18F. By the time production of the 2nd series was completed, Boeing and related companies had rebuilt production chains and began construction of the first fighters of the next modification.

Block 3

In March 2019, the U.S. Navy and Boeing signed a contract for the construction and delivery of new F / A-18E / F aircraft of the new Block III series. The agreement provided for an early launch of production with the supply of equipment in 2020-2024. The Pentagon wants to get 78 aircraft of a new series. The bulk of the supply, 61 units, will be single-seat fighter F / A-18E. Double "F" ordered in the amount of 17 pieces.

The total cost of the contract is approx. 4 billion dollars. Thus, the average cost of a 3-series machine reaches 51,3 million dollars. For comparison, the production of F / A-18E / F Block II cost less than 50 million.

On May 8, Boeing removed the first two F / A-18F aircraft of the new series from the assembly shop. After testing, they will be handed over to the customer for commissioning and full operation. Acceptance will take place within two months.

Image F / A-18F from promotional materials

In parallel with the production of new Block III aircraft, existing Block IIs will be upgraded. Starting this year, the Navy plans to annually make orders for the repair and updating of fighters from the availability. Until 2033, all combatant aircraft of the previous series will undergo such modernization. This will increase the combat effectiveness of naval aviation without large costs for the construction of the required number of aircraft of the latest modification.

Features of the series

Modification of Block III is characterized by significant changes in the airframe, general aircraft systems and electronic equipment. The improvements are aimed at increasing the main tactical, technical and operational characteristics. Newly built aircraft will initially have all these qualities, and the former Block II will receive them according to the results of a major overhaul.

Due to improvements to the airframe and individual systems, the resource is increased from 6 to 10 thousand flight hours. A certain decrease in the effective scattering area is provided. Conformal tanks for 3500 pounds (1589 kg) of fuel are installed on top of the fuselage in addition to internal tanks of 6200 to 6600 pounds, which ensures increased flight range without noticeable deterioration in aerodynamics.

Key Features of Block III Upgrade

A deep modernization of the on-board electronics complex was carried out. The composition of avionics introduced new satellite communications devices. Improved networking features related to data exchange. The sighting and navigation complex got the opportunity to work with hanging infrared reconnaissance containers. Part of the available units is preserved, but with an increase in the basic characteristics. A "glass cabin" has been formed. Its basis is a 19x10 inch (482x254 mm) liquid crystal screen, which occupies most of the dashboard.

The combat load and the nomenclature of the weapons used have not changed, the F / A-18E / F version of Block 3 can carry the same weaponas Block II. At the same time, hanging containers, new means of communication and control, etc. simplify its use and increase overall combat qualities.

Takeoff and landing characteristics remained at the level of previous modifications and ensure full operation on aircraft carriers. Additional fuel allows you to increase the range and / or duration of flight, load, etc.

Park Prospects

Between 2005 and 2020, Boeing and subcontractors built more than 600 F / A-18E / F Block II aircraft in two versions. Part of this technique has been lost or decommissioned in recent years. According to open sources, 540 aircraft of this type remain in service, of which approx. 400 units ready for use.

New cab equipment

In the new 3rd series, only two aircraft are ready so far. Now they are being tested and will only recover in the summer. After that, over the next few years it is expected to build several dozen cars - a total of 78 units.

In the foreseeable future, the share of Block III aircraft will gradually grow, both through the construction of new ones and through the modernization of Block II cash. The current plans of the Pentagon include the formation of a fleet of 618 aircraft of the latest modification, but it will take 12-13 years. As a result of these works, carrier-based aviation will remain without 2-series aircraft.

Airplanes for export

The main customer of the F / A-18 fighter-bomber of all modifications has always been the US Navy, however, a significant amount of such equipment was sent to foreign customers. The new version of Super Hornet is unlikely to be an exception.

The creation of the Block III project, namely, some of the modernization components, was partially paid by Kuwait. In March 2018, this country ordered 28 aircraft of two modifications: 22 single-seat “E” and 6 double-seat “F”. The contract provides for the construction of equipment that combines instrumentation and the capabilities of the "blocks" II and III. Implementation of the contract will begin shortly.

F / A-18E / F Block II aircraft on the deck of an aircraft carrier

Germany is considered as a potential customer. The Bundeswehr Air Force plans to abandon the obsolete Panavia Tornado aircraft, and American F / A-18E / F, including latest version of Block III. Boeing also participates in tenders for the Indian Air Force and Navy, but they are still far from complete, and their results are difficult to predict.

Thus, from the point of view of the manufacturing company, the F / A-18E / F Block III project is already successful. A major Pentagon production contract has been received and orders for modernization are expected. There is a foreign order for “hybrid” aircraft. Even if Germany or India did not want to buy airplanes, Boeing will not be left without profit.

Project Of Special Importance

It is well known that the carrier fleet and carrier-based aviation is one of the main tools of the US armed forces. Particular importance is attached to their development, and the results of this approach can be observed right now. Just a few days ago, tests began on a new series of carrier-based fighter-bombers, and in the near future they will begin serving in the Navy.

According to the plans of the Pentagon, by the mid-thirties the entire fleet of F / A-18E / F aircraft will correspond to the newest modification of Block III, which has significant advantages. This will improve the combat qualities of individual aircraft, aircraft carrier groups, the Navy and the armed forces as a whole. Thus, the recent rollout of a pair of production aircraft is a major event for both the customer and the manufacturer.
Photos used:
Boeing Company /
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  1. Ka-52
    Ka-52 22 May 2020 05: 20
    Americans know themselves rivet generation 4+. And we have a hysteria among the "experts": "if not the 5th generation, then everything is gone, you can cover yourself with a copper basin." It's not good to be happy for a potential enemy, but we should agree that Super Hornet is an excellent aircraft with remarkable characteristics. Against him, deck penguins are really penguins.
    1. novel66
      novel66 22 May 2020 09: 42
      and what. a good airplane and flying and working ... for a hundred years is still enough
  2. Vladimir61
    Vladimir61 22 May 2020 06: 14
    Oh! We would have such grandmothers and the electronics industry ...
    1. Ka-52
      Ka-52 22 May 2020 06: 18
      We would have such grandmas

      Yes, we have grandmas. From me through the fence as many as two live, sometimes they treat with jam and with their daughter :))) but with the electronic industry crying the other day I decided to buy a trimmer, not anyhow what kind of foreigner, but my own, domestic. I bought it, squinted a little .... in short, I don’t have a trimmer again crying
      1. kris_67
        kris_67 7 August 2020 16: 32
        "Yes, we have money" - not for you, but for a certain group of people who do not care about you, you are the one to do with it.
        1. Ka-52
          Ka-52 13 August 2020 04: 21
          "Yes, we have money" - not for you, but for a certain group of people who do not care about you, you are the one to do with it.

          And the allocated 2 trillion rubles. did they provide the army too? And what have I got to do with it? I am not the military-industrial complex of the Russian Federation. When you write your revolutionary cries, at least think sometimes. The development of industry in all developed countries was driven not by the government, but by the demand of the market. The government could only create the conditions for exponential growth. And then you yourself. And our business has a favorite technology: bought-sold-taken the loot offshore and that's it.
  3. rocket757
    rocket757 22 May 2020 07: 11
    According to the plans of the Pentagon, by the mid-thirties the entire fleet of F / A-18E / F aircraft will correspond to the newest modification of Block III, which has significant advantages.

    Interesno ... but it's not F 35 all the same! The generals / admirals didn’t think of something!
    1. novel66
      novel66 22 May 2020 09: 43
      and who will work hard?
  4. magirus401
    magirus401 22 May 2020 12: 09
    A good article about nothing, I took a couple of lines from the publication, spread it over a couple of pages, pasted a couple of photos ....... and all ala op "author's article" with a fee
    1. bayard
      bayard 23 May 2020 03: 36
      Yes, I remember with sadness the magnificent materials of the "Foreign Military Review" of the times of the Union ... recourse
  5. Usher
    Usher 22 May 2020 15: 09
    which provides increased flight range without noticeable deterioration in aerodynamics
    Yes Yes. one and a half tons from above)))
  6. FRoman1984
    FRoman1984 22 May 2020 17: 45
    A good aircraft and inexpensive in comparison with the F-35C, almost 2 times cheaper.
    They do it right. The 5th generation is not a panacea, and it is better to have 2 4+ generation cars than one 5th for the same money.
  7. bars1
    bars1 22 May 2020 18: 07
    Think block III building new F / A-18 for US forces and will end. Next will only be the modernization of existing aircraft.
  8. TermNachTer
    TermNachTer 22 May 2020 18: 34
    I’m embarrassed to ask, where is the F-35, which was supposed to replace everything in the world on the decks of aircraft carriers?
    1. K-612-O
      K-612-O 22 May 2020 19: 02
      A stone flower does not come out, and the best deck is so far only a hornet, one of not many outstanding American aircraft, like the F-14, how much Lockheed does not puff up, and he can’t make a Boeing. Only Northrop and Boeing are suitable aircraft.
      1. TermNachTer
        TermNachTer 22 May 2020 19: 12
        As far as I remember, the F-14 was a Grumman company. To put it mildly - the airplane is not a masterpiece, it had a lot of shortcomings. F - 18 is good only because there is nothing else. Not counting F - 35
        1. K-612-O
          K-612-O 22 May 2020 19: 48
          Quite right, but the grumman had already bought Northrop for a long time, like the Boeing bought MD, the hornet developer, and the F-14 was in 70-80 the best deck aircraft in the world and at that time he had no competitors in the air as a fighter. The 21st was outdated, but 23 was nothing.
          1. TermNachTer
            TermNachTer 22 May 2020 20: 40
            On the 14th, in addition to the well-known advantages, there were serious shortcomings, about which the mattress admirals were silent. And the main task of Tomket was not fights with MiGs, but the interception of missile carriers of the USSR Navy or their missiles, if already launched.
        2. Minotavrik
          Minotavrik 1 June 2020 17: 16
          With the retirement of the F-14D, Americans lost a very strong naval interceptor potential. Not a hornet. neither he, with the prefix super, can provide the characteristics that Tomcat and Phoenix gave .. Tomcat’s combat radius alone is 300 km more than the hornet’s ... therefore they now hang the saddle from above by 1.5 tons - so that at least then level this fact.
          The first series A and A + had flaws, with the change of engines, cats flied normally ..
          1. TermNachTer
            TermNachTer 1 June 2020 17: 20
            Yeah. Only now the resource and cost of these engines were unsuitable even for mattresses.
    2. L-39NG
      L-39NG 22 May 2020 19: 38
      Why be shy? On the ships, they, so far, are jumping, but based on bases:

      Amendola Air Base, Italy
      Edwards Air Force Base, California
      Eglin Air Force Base, Florida
      Hill Air Force Base, Utah
      Luke Air Force Base, Arizona
      Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina
      Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan
      Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona
      Misawa Air Base, Japan
      Naval Air Station Lemoore, California
      Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland
      Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada
      Nevatim Air Base, Israel
      Ørland Air Force Station, Norway
      Royal Air Force Base, Marham, United Kingdom
      In South Korea next year will appear

      While in the world flies more than 490 of these aircraft and, they say, their number will increase. But there is no reason for concern, the apparatus of an egg is not worth it, as everyone in Russia knows.
  9. storm
    storm 28 May 2020 23: 31
    The pace of procurement of aircraft for the aerospace forces fell sharply, although plans for re-equipment remained far from fulfilled.
    The most logical thing now would be to increase the purchase of Su-35 to 24 units per year due to the interruption of the purchase of Su-34 and Su-30SM for several years until the Irkutsk and Novosibirsk plants master new modifications of these machines.

    The Irkutsk plant should also launch an assembly line for 12-14 Su-35 per year for export supplies.

    By the year 25, the number of Su-35s in the VKS will have to reach 200 units (8 combat regiments).
    After that, the Komsomol plant should completely switch to serial production of Su-57 for 20-24 units per year.