Boeing has worked with the US Navy to prove that the F/A-18 Super Hornet can operate from a “ski jump” ramp, demonstrating the aircraft’s suitability for India’s aircraft carriers.
The demonstrations, held at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, showed that the Super Hornet would do well with the Indian Navy’s Short Takeoff but Arrested Recovery (STOBAR) system and validated earlier simulation studies by Boeing.
“The first successful and safe launch of the F/A-18 Super Hornet from a ski jump begins the validation process to operate effectively from Indian Navy aircraft carriers,” said Ankur Kanaglekar, India fighter sales lead for Boeing. “The F/A-18 Block III Super Hornet will not only provide superior war fighting capability to the Indian Navy but also create opportunities for cooperation in naval aviation between the United States and India.”
The successful test comes just as India is preparing to complete construction works on its first indigenously-built aircraft carrier INS Vikrant next year. The Indian Air Force is also in the process of buying 114 medium-weight multirole fighters in an investment of about $17 billion.
The Indian Navy is evaluating its fighter options. If it selects the Super Hornet, it would benefit from billions of dollars invested in new technologies by the US Navy and others, Boeing said. Those technologies include advanced networking, longer range through conformal fuel tanks, infrared search and track, and a new advanced cockpit system.
An expected competitor of Super Hornet is the French-built Rafale fighter. Dassault Aviation has already delivered the first of overall 36 aircraft to India under a contract from 2016. The Rafale is also a carrier-capable aircraft and is already flying from the French aircraft carrier FS Charles de Gaulle.
Boeing’s ski jump demonstrations follow the delivery of two Block III flight-test aircraft to the US Navy in June. Boeing is on contract to deliver next-generation Block III capabilities to the US Navy beginning in 2021. The Super Hornet provides the most weapons at range in the US Navy’s fighter inventory, including five times more air-to-ground and twice the air-to-air weapons capacity.