Military Review

Hornets Nest. Why are the US buying the F / A-18 instead of the extra F-35C?


Count on the third or second!

Last year, the U.S. Navy finally bid farewell to the F / A-18C Hornet fighter, however история his younger brother, Super Hornet, is far from over. Firstly, this machine is actively “wooed” for export, and secondly (and this, perhaps, even more important), the Americans themselves will actively use it. And, probably, not for several decades: the aircraft is actively developing, acquiring new opportunities. Recall this spring, the U.S. Navy received the last F / A-18 Block II Super Hornet fighter. Fired it no less than fifteen years, since 2005 (the very first Super Hornet began to operate in 2000).

Soon a fundamentally new version of the combat vehicle will say its weighty word, the capabilities of which will bring it closer to the fifth generation. Recall, the rollout of the first two Super Hornet versions of Block III was carried out by Boeing in May of this year. And most recently, the first F / A-18 Block III Super Hornet test plane made its first flight at the Boeing plant in St. Louis, Missouri.

At first glance, the new car is almost impossible to distinguish from any of the earlier Super Hornet. What is the peculiarity of the aircraft? The one that will allow him to stand on a par with the best modern fourth-generation fighters. The car that took off the day before in the broad sense is a prototype. She, like the second such fighter, only partially has the signs of Block III and will be used for testing technologies. To answer the main questions you need to look at the production aircraft, which we will soon be able to see.

The main differences

New machines will differ from Block II in a number of systems and subsystems. The main differences:

Conformal fuel tanks. The most important visual difference by which it will be possible to determine the combatant Block III is the conformal fuel tanks. Their prototype is devoid of. Such tanks will allow you to take more fuel and have less resistance to air flow than the suspension models that can be seen on the Super Hornet. According to Boeing itself, more than 1500 kilograms of fuel will fit in conformal tanks. The “usual” Super Hornet has a mass of fuel without the use of outboard fuel tanks of 6780 kilograms. The growth of the combat radius, presumably, will be more than substantial: according to a number of sources, it will be approximately 300 kilometers.

IRST Block II Sensor Americans are steadily increasing the ability of Super Hornet to detect stealth aircraft. Back in January, the U.S. Navy's F / A-18 Super Hornet fighter was tested with the Infrared Search and Track (IRST) Block II hanging infrared container, capable of (at least in theory) effectively detecting stealth even at a relatively long distance. A definite plus is that the work of the passive sensor cannot be detected, unlike the work of the radar station. It should be understood that the IRST Block II will never be a complete replacement for the radar and has never been thought of as such. In general, it can be called the second most important improvement of the new Super Hornet.

New display. Another significant improvement was the new display in the cockpit, measuring 10 x 19 inches. To understand how important this improvement is, just look at the old “miniature” displays of the earlier Super Hornet, which look archaic even against the background of the displays of the Russian Su-35C, not to mention the F-35. With the new solution, the Khornet pilots will come closer in terms of situational awareness to fifth-generation fighter pilots. Approach, but do not turn into them overnight. Do not forget that the F-35, in principle, is much more advanced in this regard than any other existing combat aircraft.

Other innovations include a new on-board computer and a data exchange system that allows more efficient exchange of data with other combat units. In addition, the developers promise to extend the life of the aircraft up to 9000+ flight hours. 3000 additional hours were obtained by making structural changes to the production aircraft based on lessons learned from the F-18 operating experience. It is also worth noting that a number of improvements are classified as “trade secrets”. And not the fact that we will hear about them in the next few years.

The penguin protector?

There is a point of view that the Super Hornet will be protected by the “floppy” F-35, popularly referred to as the penguin, not too flattering for a fighter. In fact, this position is incorrect. To begin with, it is worth noting that the F-35 has quite satisfactory flight performance. At least by the standards of the fourth generation, except perhaps the Dassault Rafale and a couple of other machines of the 4 + (+) generation. The fifth-generation fighter carries in its internal compartments a solid arsenal of four medium-range AIM-120 air-to-air missiles, and in the future it will carry six such products. At the same time, the mass of the F / A-18 Block III Super Hornet will increase against the background of the early F / A-18s even more significantly, which cannot but affect its maneuverability. That is, before the F-35, he will no longer be able to boast of anything significant.

This does not mean at all that Block III is an “unsuccessful” fighter-bomber. The increase in combat range and good combat load make the F / A-18 Block III Super Hornet an almost ideal solution for a situation in which you need to “finish off” a weakened enemy, deprived of fighter cover and air defense. Another function of Block III is anti-ship. Recall, last year, anti-ship missiles AGM-158C LRASM entered service with the F / A-18E / F fleet United States: One Super Hornet can carry up to four LRASM missiles. Given the long range of the missile (presumably 900+ kilometers), the lack of full stealth on the F / A-18 Block III does not look as critical as if it was an air confrontation.

Thus, the F / A-18 Block III Super Hornet is not an F-35C bodyguard, nor a substitute for it, nor a demonstration of fifth-generation insolvency. The new aircraft will be something like a deck attack aircraft (of course, calling the F / A-18 “attack aircraft” is not entirely correct). Not being a stealth, the car will be significantly inferior in terms of the qualities of the F-35, but it will be able to surpass the latter in terms of price / efficiency if it comes to an enemy that does not have great military potential against the background of the United States (and most countries of the world relate to these).

In addition, Block III has a good export potential. In particular, he can win the continuation of the long-suffering Indian competition Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA), which now involves the purchase of 114 multi-role fighters. Success in this field can significantly strengthen the recently shaken position of Boeing.
Dear reader, to leave comments on the publication, you must to register.

I have an account? Sign in

  1. The leader of the Redskins
    The leader of the Redskins 16 June 2020 06: 13
    I do not think that pragmatic Americans will simply write off a good fighter in order to replace it with an incompletely mastered one in units. "Hornet" will still serve. Moreover, the world is not so stable now ...
    1. The comment was deleted.
    2. Grazdanin
      Grazdanin 16 June 2020 09: 05
      F35 still needs to be released in the right amount, to cure all childhood diseases. F / A 18 is simply gorgeous for its tasks, a very successful car.
      1. 5-9
        5-9 16 June 2020 16: 03
        To release them (in a disabled state) is already quite good ... but to cure is very badly not so .... and some diseases are not children’s, but congenital and ugly.
      2. VO3A
        VO3A 16 June 2020 20: 35
        Other innovations include a new on-board computer and a data exchange system that allows more efficient exchange of data with other combat units.
        No need to praise the author .. Other innovations are the most important ... This will allow you to use the F / A-18 Block III Super Hornet as a remote shooter who, using target designation with F35, will shoot at everything revealed ...This is .. bodyguard. This will allow you to occupy the most advantageous position for combat use ... At the same time, the F35 will not need to reveal itself, and use its weapons, despite the fact that it is always ready ... Also with UAVs ... An ordinary network-centric ligament that greatly increases the effectiveness of the combat applications and possible tactics ... They still have to hang external weapons on other penguins, which will be too many for scouts and they will be used as F18 ,,,,
  2. Mavrikiy
    Mavrikiy 16 June 2020 07: 38
    Why are the US buying the F / A-18 instead of the extra F-35C?
    Well, probably in the USA they decided to buy the best ... repeat
  3. akarfoxhound
    akarfoxhound 16 June 2020 07: 48
    Finally, a normal analytical article on the topic of aviation. Zhenek Damantsev, this is not your juggling with digits without understanding the essence, learn how to!
    1. Constructor68
      Constructor68 16 June 2020 08: 00
      Finally, a normal analytical article on the topic of aviation.

      You can ask where and in what did you see the analysis here? Simple enumerations of updates to the F-18 (and even then not all) plus half-far-fetched conclusions about the characteristics of the F-35. That's the whole "analysis". The question from the title is not disclosed at all. The statement about the "deck attack aircraft" is generally a masterpiece laughing fool Ordinary surface rawhide from Legate
      1. akarfoxhound
        akarfoxhound 16 June 2020 08: 16
        Those. Does Zhenya have thoughtful conclusions? Are you "in the know" for his articles? Well, for the "attack aircraft", I think you are no more than getting to the bottom of it, the abbreviation F / A was not in vain introduced by the 18th minke whales, in our school, in the academy, there was a layout of the AUG air wing, how much is 18x in the fighter version, how many in the assault and so on. wink
        1. Constructor68
          Constructor68 16 June 2020 08: 34
          Those. does Zhenya have thoughtful conclusions?

          What does Damantsev have to do with it? What stupid questions? The content of the Legat article is discussed, and I wrote about this.
          Attack aircraft (battlefield aircraft) from the Americans A-10. All other machines have, to one degree or another, certain impact capabilities that they are given the load, the ability to place and equip sighting systems of the corresponding weapons. But that doesn't make them stormtroopers
          1. akarfoxhound
            akarfoxhound 16 June 2020 08: 55
            Damantsev is here, despite the fact that I mentioned him in my first commentary, there is generally a tough crap for the technique, there are not so many "songwriters" for aviation here at VO. What I wanted to mention is what I mentioned.
            There are many aircraft with strike and fighter capabilities, and the F / A-18, to put it mildly, is one of the few with such a double abbreviation. For example, a pure IBA employee of the 105th Chief had just an F-105, etc. For some reason, they did not apply such an abbreviation to the F-15E Strike. What should be the attack aircraft (armor, load, etc.) here is the tenth question. Thunder respected car. But here, the owners named? Get it! And your purely personal attitude to this will still remain personal, here you cannot erase "A" with an eraser. Want to challenge USAF designations? Then write to the Pentagon that "the public is outraged" lol
            1. Constructor68
              Constructor68 16 June 2020 09: 12
              What I wanted to mention, then I mentioned.

              You can write here at least about the bun and the Baba Yaga - what do I have to do with it? Nakoy vegetable, you vparivat me this with your questions about Damantsev? I did not quite understand
              What should be the attack aircraft (armor, load, etc.) is already the tenth question.

              For a person with a pretense of "no bad day", you are too naive to judge the characteristics of combat aircraft. This is precisely what is paramount. Here is an example, for example, that the cruising speed at the ground for the A-10 (an important indicator for an attack aircraft) is such that the supernet on it will be on the verge of stalling. And in terms of survivability, he is far from pulling the plane of the battlefield. And your appeals to the 60-year-old identification system and arguments like "the Americans have called, well, fuck your objections" again, not for the reader with high claims of objectivity
              1. akarfoxhound
                akarfoxhound 16 June 2020 10: 57
                Personally, I do not need it for any reason, neither with Damantsev, nor without. I mentioned it in my first comment, when suddenly on the horizon you suddenly organized yourself afterwards with your claim to me. Therefore, look in the mirror with "vparivanie". Well, and secondly - the guys added to you for the abbreviation that the materiel may not correspond to the embedded characteristics - this kind of thing cannot be ??? Well, your personal attitude to this, I repeat, is nothing more than personal. And I certainly do not pretend to be "high" claims for objectivity, this is also your personal gag. I know what an attack aircraft is and there is a suspicion that I "touched" a real attack aircraft before you, somehow it happened in the distant '83 in 90 ShAP. Well, I graduated from the air defense fighter school and for more than a decade they chased us in the tail and in the mane according to the performance characteristics and live for copies of potential "friends". Forgive me in this situation, but your opinion about my competence (here I will agree with you) - it was sent in the direction where you yourself wrote for me. You got up on the wrong foot today? Bad radishes shaken the crown of competence - you want to be angry, then they organized a quarrel - feel better? Is the day a success now? All?!
                Well, now to the path you indicated, dear!
                1. The comment was deleted.
                  1. akarfoxhound
                    akarfoxhound 16 June 2020 16: 13
                    I essentially answered you. And if you did not join, then this is not my problem, but yours with your doctor, who took you for a bubble to this school for professional selection. By the way, hi fiery from Raskova. I went on a demobilization here after being written off after an injury from the Holy Whistle in Tambov, I was transferred to instruct. But the truth to your show-offs for Raskova there is one question - I saw an interesting thing in KDA. Unlike one and two-seat aircraft in the same air defense, air force (ShA, IA, BA) and other front-line aircraft, to which, as I understand it, you had no relationship and no, and could not be (but read about her, but how did I read .. laughing So here are some gentlemen, graduates of your course are worthy people, but there are also eternal righteous people, right up to the DMB. Why? Yes, because this "creation" does not know how to plant a big layba. Here on Elk it is with grief in half, and the same 134, 22, 95 - well, nothing! All my life, the finger does not take out the right finger from the nose, being responsible for the important 3 things in the crew - LJJ, namely women, food, housing. Who said they weren't important ??? And they feel sorry for him and this miracle sits until 45.
                    So in front-line aviation, such copies are written off to hell in the very first year. Dali dopa, 400-420 on the glide path, 350-370 did not master the alignment? Is it hard and fast? If you don't know how, you are free! And here I see that you have the highest degree of non-professionalism only in "eternal PRP". So I strongly doubt that you represent anything from yourself in the flying business, they themselves gave a reason.
                    P.S. I have a very respectful attitude towards KDA, I still have friends, but this attitude is not to all its representatives.
                    And yet, my dear demagogue, who saw from the right cup at the preliminary how the front-line flies from the executive, I didn't baptize with you in summer, You will poke your woman in the evening, understand? Although who am I asking about "understandable" ...
                    Is free! Don’t sweat, because I understand - it’s difficult
            2. Grazdanin
              Grazdanin 16 June 2020 09: 12
              Historically, 2 modifications of the F / A18, a fighter and an attack aircraft were planned, but the difference was not big and they decided to unify + marketing the curtains and Congress gave money.
            3. Undecim
              Undecim 16 June 2020 10: 16
              It is not clear what the argument is about.
              There is such a directive document regulating the designation of all military aircraft up to satellites.

              According to this document, the Super Hornet is designated as FA-18 without a slash and refers to attack aircraft, despite the fact that the first letter in the designation F. There are several such "off-system" designations in the US Air Force.
              Initially, the aircraft was to be produced in three versions: the F-18A fighter, the A-18A attack aircraft, and the TF-18A combat trainer. But after McDonnell-Douglas managed to combine fighter and assault modifications into one aircraft, since 1980 it has been designated F / A-18A. This designation was officially approved only in April 1984.
  4. venik
    venik 16 June 2020 07: 49
    The solution is quite logical: even the states with their colossal financial capabilities cannot afford fully to transfer the aircraft fleet to the "5th generation": it is too expensive, and there is no such need - it ("5th generation") is needed only against a very strong enemy with powerful air defense and numerous and well-equipped fighter aircraft. And such and the states only Russia and China! And against the rest and why simpler Yes cheaper will do!
  5. knn54
    knn54 16 June 2020 07: 55
    A REAL workhorse.
    - able to launch new long-range missiles outside the enemy’s air defense area,
    -increased flight range essentially stays in the air longer,
    The over-horizon observation complex enhances its defensive capabilities.
    -Few people can compete with him on equal terms in battle. Especially (as the Yankes say) the planes of the "inexperienced enemy".
  6. Doccor18
    Doccor18 16 June 2020 08: 39
    It is normal practice to modernize well-developed aircraft. And with us, after the serial production of a fifth-generation fighter, the Su-35 will be in the ranks of the VKS for a long time to come.
  7. Engineer
    Engineer 16 June 2020 09: 06
    I do not know much about this topic
    Does Amer f-15 modification E not do the same as the new Hornet? Only better. Flies on, missiles carry the most. It is superior in speed. If you need to beat a not very advanced enemy, then it is he who is ideal.
    1. Grazdanin
      Grazdanin 16 June 2020 09: 17
      F15 are frankly old, F / A 18 and F / A 18 super Hornet are similar but different cars, Like Su27 and su35. F15 is more expensive to operate than F16, functionally comparable. F15 will slowly begin to write off, F16 as well as F18 will be in service for a very long time. F / A18 carrier-based fighter, F15 "land".
      1. Engineer
        Engineer 16 June 2020 09: 44
        Just super Hornet was kind of like in the version of the deck and the land. If the new modification is just deck then everything is clear and the f-15 is not his opponent. I did not think in the morning about such a simple thing)
        1. Grazdanin
          Grazdanin 16 June 2020 10: 00
          Yes, for export there are land options F / A18. But in the series in the Air Force went F15 and F16, in the Navy F14 and F / A18.
      2. 5-9
        5-9 16 June 2020 16: 04
        F / A 18 and F / A 18 super Hornet are generally different machines, more different than the Su-27 and Su-34 ...
    2. mvg
      mvg 16 June 2020 20: 13
      Does amers f-15 modification E does not do the same as the new Hornet

      He doesn’t sit on the deck, doesn’t fold his wings, and he has a hook in the pope, and everything is the same as the Eagle.
      Here, the characteristics are better, the article of Legat is cut down three times
  8. EvilLion
    EvilLion 16 June 2020 09: 08
    We would have to go to his museum. I generally love F / A-18 in terms of aesthetics.
  9. Operator
    Operator 16 June 2020 09: 48
    The author got confused in his conclusions: if the new F-18 is not the bodyguard of the F-35 and not an attack aircraft, then who is he - maybe a direct competitor of the Penguin (taking into account the peeling stealth coating of the latter and the impossibility of placing an anti-ship missile in the inner compartment)? laughing
  10. Forest
    Forest 16 June 2020 10: 22
    A couple of years of liberals (democrats) in power, and they will begin to do supermustangs.
  11. Bez 310
    Bez 310 16 June 2020 10: 42
    Why why...
    The airplane was already very successful, and everything is getting prettier and prettier.
  12. Viktor Sergeev
    Viktor Sergeev 16 June 2020 11: 24
    Cheapness of operation, no problems in comparison with the same coating of "invisible". Stealths are not needed in modern local wars, a waste of money, and they will stand on airfields, take care of their cover falling off on supersonic.
  13. Grading
    Grading 16 June 2020 15: 47
    Quote: Forest
    A couple of years of liberals (democrats) in power, and they will begin to do supermustangs.

  14. 5-9
    5-9 16 June 2020 16: 01
    The naval slopes are the least for pilling and pulling back (although the Zamvolts and LCS are hinting, but they were "able" in the end to refuse). To have a Super Hornet instead of the promised F-35 was a smart decision.
    The aircraft is quite average in all respects, but it’s worked out, mastered, there are a lot of them and, importantly, amid the junk in AirFors, they are fresh ... they don’t like naval range (without PTB).
  15. Outsider
    Outsider 17 June 2020 02: 14
    - Its operation is much cheaper. Two engines are more reliable than one, especially over the ocean. World War III is not yet in sight, and in all local wars, the F-18E / F is much more economically viable.
  16. aiden
    aiden 26 July 2020 14: 11
    This is the workhorse of the United States Air Force. Proven by both time and wars
  17. Lesorub
    Lesorub 13 September 2020 16: 50
    Hornets Nest. Why are the US buying the F / A-18 instead of the extra F-35C?

    F 18 is a good battle horse - time-tested - I think the purchase of these aircraft is understandable.