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The Super Hornet is good for the mission it performs, but not good enough for those missions that are needed by the countries buying the Lightning.
Originally posted by Zaphod58
And everything else has gone through development issues. The F-35 is one of the most complex aircraft attempted. There is no excuse for what's going on with the project, but they're at least getting a handle on some of the issues that it's had, and they're slowly expanding the program.
The first National Guard pilots have begun transition, as well as other pilot types, instead of mostly instructors and test pilots.
The F-18A-D has a combat radius of 400nm on an air-to-air mission, and the E/F and the Growler has a radius of 390nm on an interdiction mission. Wow, that's such a wonderful aircraft for just about every mission. You have to take a tanker with you just to take off almost.
Combat radius specification: 390nm
Interdiction with four 1,000 lb bombs, two Sidewinders,
and two 1,818 liter (480 U.S. gallon: 400 Imp gallon) external tanks,
navigation FLIR and targeting FLIR: Forward Looking Infra-Red
In early 2008, Boeing discussed the development of a Super Hornet Block III with the U.S. and Australian military, featuring additional stealth capabilities and extended range; a long-term successor is to be developed under the Next Generation Air Dominance program. Development of an improved F414 engine with better resistance to foreign object damage, and a reduced fuel burn rate began in 2009. Work is also being done on possible performance improvements to increase thrust by 20%.
Boeing is studying a centerline pod, which will have four internal stations for two AIM-120 AMRAAMs and two 500 lb Joint Direct Attack Munitions in a similar fashion to the Boeing F-15SE Silent Eagle's Conformal Weapons Bays, but with less stealth. Other improvements include a chin mounted IRST and all aspect missile and laser warning, in the same fashion as the F-35. A next-generation cockpit is also under development which has a very large 19 in x 11 in touch-sensitive display.
Boeing has offered India and other international customers the Super Hornet "International Roadmap", which includes conformal fuel tanks, enhanced engines, an enclosed weapons pod (EWP), a next-generation cockpit, a new missile warning system, and an internal infra-red search and track (IRST) system. Three EWPs could be carried, one belly mounted and one under each wing, for a total combat load of up to 12 AMRAAMs and 2 Sidewinders. By holding the weapons in the streamlined pods the aircraft can reach higher speeds and altitudes, which can increase the standoff ranges of the weapons.
I would love to see the F-35 program go away, and go away quickly, but with nothing better than the Super Hornet out there (too many people want stealth now for any older designs to be successful anymore), what other choice is there?
The current schedule has the delivery of basic combat capability aircraft in late 2015, followed by full capability block three software in late 2016.
Your links actually show LESS combat radius for the Hornets than I said it was. The Hornet is a decent aircraft, but as far as range goes, it HAS to live near a tanker. That means that you have to have access to tankers, which not every country does.
Boeing has ideas that they can alter older designs and make them semi-stealthy, that I'm not entirely sure will work.
The F-35 was going to be produced in large numbers, which meant cheap, and now it's blown all out of proportion.
The SE, is supposed to have a noticeably smaller RCS (according to Boeing), but pretty much all they did was add weapons bays, and cant the tails. There is some RAM added to the design, and some other changes, but it is still an Eagle. You aren't going to get the LO that most countries want now with one. It just can't be done.
The Block III Hornet is basically going to end up being a Hornet with new engines, new radar upgrades, avionics upgrades, POSSIBLY have thrust vectoring (which I doubt, but even if it does it would be the same as the F-22, which it turns out has some WVR issues I hadn't heard about), and other incremental upgrades. They might end up putting RAM coatings on some parts to give it a smaller RCS, but again, you can't get the LO that the F-35 will get.
Even if the F-35 doesn't live up to the range that LM is giving out, it has the one thing that everyone wants now. The LO coating.
Ever since Desert Storm, people started to realize that "this stealth s**t really works!"