Navy considering CFTs for Super Hornet fleet

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posted on Mar, 21 2013 @ 11:00 AM
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The Navy is apparently talking to Boeing about adding conformal fuel tanks to the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fleet. The addition of the tanks would add 3500 lbs of fuel to the aircraft, but would further reduce the transonic performance of the aircraft, which is already weak. Boeing says the tanks would not add cruise drag to the aircraft, but the increased wave drag would degrade transonic acceleration.

Of the "legacy fighters" the F-18 is the slowest of the bunch, with the shortest legs. It currently uses the GE F414-GE-400 engines which produce 22,000 lbs of thrust. GE says they can upgrade the thrust to 26,400 lbs, but would require an engine redesign. There is only so much more power they can get out of the 414, and that would theoretically be about the top end limit for the engine.

The problem now is money. The Navy and most services have a lot tied up in the F-35, and with the cuts, it's not clear if the Navy has enough for the CFT addition, especially if they have to add an engine redesign to it. This would be a way to hedge their bets against further F-35 delays or possible cuts, if they can find the money for it.


The US Navy is considering adding conformal fuel tanks (CFTs) onto its fleet of Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet strike fighters, sources say. The twin dorsally mounted tanks are expected to be tested this summer.

The USN does not deny that it is interested in the conformal tanks, but says that it cannot comment on the project at this time. "As of right now this information is proprietarily owned between Boeing and Northrop [Grumman] and PMA-265 cannot talk to it," the Naval Air Systems Command says. PMA-265 is the US Navy programme office responsible for managing the F/A-18 and EA-18G fleets.

Boeing officials did not respond to queries prior to publication.

Source




posted on Mar, 21 2013 @ 11:11 AM
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I do not really understand this. Extended range needs to be optimal on bombers, but on fighters I do not see why this is necessary, considering the US presence in just about every theatre in the world. Well, the US military is not everywhere, but it is close to everywhere, in that it can reach anywhere from a land base or can position carriers anywhere in the world.



posted on Mar, 21 2013 @ 11:17 AM
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Originally posted by JiggyPotamus
I do not really understand this. Extended range needs to be optimal on bombers, but on fighters I do not see why this is necessary, considering the US presence in just about every theatre in the world. Well, the US military is not everywhere, but it is close to everywhere, in that it can reach anywhere from a land base or can position carriers anywhere in the world.


More fuel and slower flights are needed to gun down/bomb civilian targets for longer periods... It's not range they are concerned with it's endurance.



posted on Mar, 21 2013 @ 11:28 AM
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reply to post by JiggyPotamus
 


Because when you look at range, combat radius is the key to operations. Especially with the Super Hornet, since it's also a strike aircraft. In one configuration the combat radius of the SH is in the 300 mile area, which is absolutely pathetic for an aircraft that size, and type. Its longest unrefueled ranges are 420 nm as a pure fighter, and 490 nm as an attack aircraft, depending on loadout. This compares to the F-15C (pure fighter) at around 1000 miles, the F-15E (strike) at 790 miles (up to 1100 miles depending on load), and the F-16 at between 200 nm (and staying on station for over 2 hours), and 740 nm. The farther out you can go, to interdict incoming threats, the more time you have to kill them before they're a threat to your carrier.



posted on Mar, 21 2013 @ 11:34 AM
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Why don't they rip out those GE engines and put something more awesome inside?

Also, can the airframe handle any kind of "upgrades" as mentioned?



posted on Mar, 21 2013 @ 11:41 AM
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reply to post by MystikMushroom
 


Boeing has been offering them recently to international customers, so it would appear the airframe will be able to handle them ok.

As for the engines, if you up them too much, then you have the problem of having too much power for the airframe (see the early F-15E years), and can end up shortening the lifespan of the aircraft. The upgrade GE is offering is perfect for the Rhino. Not too much power, but more than it currently has, although with the Rhino being what it is, 26000 lbs, and CFTs will probably put it right back to where it is now performance wise.



posted on Mar, 21 2013 @ 12:01 PM
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reply to post by Zaphod58
 


Gotcha.

Are they going to be upgrading the computers and avionics as well? I would imagine that the computers are fairly modular (plug & play) for ease of repair?

It's a shame the F-22 program is now defunct. I watch the squadron here fly those things every day and boy golly are they awesome to see.



posted on Mar, 21 2013 @ 12:16 PM
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reply to post by MystikMushroom
 


From what I can tell, no, the only upgrade would be the CFTs, and possibly engines. We may see some computer upgrades in the near future, but this particular upgrade would only add the extra tanks.

Where I lived before I was under the eastern high speed corridor. I got to see an impromptu airshow from every F-22 that was built out of Marietta. Got to see "airshows" from a pair of Su-22s as well.
edit on 3/21/2013 by Zaphod58 because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 21 2013 @ 12:33 PM
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I wish some branch would pick up they way cancelled
YF-23. I think only two are around. Such a cool plane.
Practical? I have no idea. Cool looking? Check!



posted on Mar, 21 2013 @ 12:36 PM
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reply to post by sealing
 


Are you sure about that?



posted on Mar, 21 2013 @ 12:38 PM
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reply to post by Zaphod58
 


In your opinion, does upgrading and keeping the F-18 going seem like the most logical thing to do? Is it the only plane we have in our inventory that can perform the same functions?

It seems to me that by the time we start seeing F-35's being deployed they'll already be outdated!



posted on Mar, 21 2013 @ 12:43 PM
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reply to post by MystikMushroom
 


The Hornet and Rhino were never that great to begin with. I wish they had kept the Intruder around. That thing was a real beast, payload the size of a B-17 in WWII, for an airframe less than half the size.

There's a new project in the works to replace the Rhino with a sixth gen aircraft, the F/A-xx, but there's no telling when it will actually occur, and at the rate they get aircraft into service it'll be 40 years before we see them flying. The Rhino will have to stay in service until the new aircraft comes online, as the F-35 WVR capabilities are questionable still. The Rhino isn't the best WVR aircraft, but the possibility of it being better than the F-35 is out there.



posted on Mar, 21 2013 @ 01:15 PM
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reply to post by Zaphod58
 


Ha! I hear ya! Some don't like it at all.
Btw I always check out your aviation threads because
I always learn something new.



posted on Mar, 21 2013 @ 01:18 PM
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reply to post by sealing
 


There are... rumors about the F-23. Nothing concrete, but the rumors I've heard are rather interesting.

Thanks, I appreciate that. I always try to make things interesting.
edit on 3/21/2013 by Zaphod58 because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 21 2013 @ 01:31 PM
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We need a stealth A10. A UCAS with durability and the same gun.



posted on Mar, 21 2013 @ 01:37 PM
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reply to post by Zaphod58
 

I have to agree on the A-6. I was stationed in a A-7 squadron (NAS Lemoore), but our ramp sisters were an A-6 outfit, so I found myself under their radomes and in the cockpits occasionally.

Not pretty, but those birds could carry our A-7Es two under each wing! Long live the "Drumstick"!



posted on Mar, 21 2013 @ 05:25 PM
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reply to post by Zaphod58
 


You hear about a F-23, it may be the designation of a 6th gen fighter prototype? We see Boeing concept who are in advance on the FA/XX concept, may be Navy zap the F-35C and go forward another plane like the FA/XX.



posted on Mar, 21 2013 @ 07:00 PM
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Originally posted by Zaphod58
reply to post by sealing
 


Are you sure about that?





posted on Mar, 21 2013 @ 07:33 PM
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(not my pic...but does anyone notice how small the pilot is compared to the rest of the plane??)

Lets think about this. Most people will agree that the YF-23 whipped the crap out of the YF-22 in just about every aspect of the competition, with a few exceptions. Now why would the YF-22 get picked for the contract over the -23? Perhaps the YF-23 went blackworld as either a RF-23 or FB-23, or even taken a step further and made into a sixth gen fighter to replace legacy fighters in a decade or two.

The two most people talk about are the grey one and the black one. I was given the opportunity to refuel the black one once, and mind you this was after the competition was already over and the F-22 was in production. Sooooo why were they still flying it? I'll let ya in on a little secret...there's more than just two of them built....
edit on 21-3-2013 by boomer135 because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 21 2013 @ 07:39 PM
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(my pic. Not the best angle for measurement but doesn't it look like the YF-23 is waaaaaaaay bigger than the YF-22?)





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