Boeing is shopping a groovy list of options to foreign Super Hornet customers at an airshow in India:
Improvements include the Next Generation Cockpit outfitted with a new 11-by-19 inch large area display with integrated intuitive graphics and increased situational awareness.
“Basically, it’s one big iPad, which provides the pilot with a large increase in display surface area,” Boeing test pilot Ricardo Traven said.
Other unique features include improvements in the Hornet’s stealth and range a stealthy conformal fuel tank and a conformal enclosed weapons pod, for example. The weapons pod can carry a combination of AIM-120 air-to-air missiles and air-to-ground bombs, with each Super Hornet capable of carrying three pods. The conformal fuel tank also reduces drag.
Range and speed are also increased with the GE-414 Enhanced Performance Engine (EPE).
“When you reduce the drag with the stealthy weapons pod and with an engine with 20 percent more thrust, you greatly increase range,” Traven said.
Configuration flexibility improvements include an internal Infra-Red Search and Track (IRST) system and a new missile and laser warning system.
Kuwait bought the original enhanced performance engine that eventually became the standard in later model FA-18Cs, while Switzerland bought a 9-g wing for their FA-18s – a mod that didn’t join the US fleet.
Used to be export versions of front line fighters were tuned down a bit, to leave the home team a morale boost should relationships go sideways. So it’s a strange salad bar indeed that serves non-aligned India with a higher performance, stealthier FA-18E than is serving aboard US naval aircraft carriers today.
I guess you get what you pay for.