Skip to comments.Boeing plots hybrid Super Hornet/Growler future
Posted on 06/25/2014 9:39:07 PM PDT by sukhoi-30mki
Boeing is formulating a concept for a hybrid variant of the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet equipped with the electronic signal detection capabilities of the EA-18G Growler as it seeks to attract orders for new aircraft and upgrades to older models.
The resulting aircraft would resemble an E/A-18G that lacks ALQ-99 jamming pods for electronic attack, preserves the ALQ-218 electronic receiver and adds weapons now only carried by the F/A-18E/F, says Boeing vice-president Mike Gibbons.
That hybrid just starts with the simple notion of take the sensor suite of the Growler and move it to a basically strike platform and then you grow that platform to take advantage of the fact that you can now see anybody thats emitting, Gibbons says.
The growth capabilities would be the addition of a long-range infrared search and track sensor and new air-to-air tracking modes for airborne systems.
Gibbons has recently taken charge of Boeings F-15 but previously led the F/A-18E/F and EA-18G programmes.
As Gibbons briefed a group of reporters on both programmes in St. Louis, Missouri on 24 June, the hybrid Super Hornet/Growler concept emerged as he explained why Boeing is so confident that it can extend production of the combined production line for several years despite the current backlog running out at the end of 2016.
Last October, the US Navy prematurely released a draft solicitation document to buy up to 36 more E/A-18Gs, then withdrew the document after it gained attention. Instead, the USN tacked an order for 22 more E/A-18G onto the top of a wish list of unfunded priorities sent to Congress for Fiscal 2015. Congress has met the navys request half-way, with the House of Representatives adding 12 E/A-18Gs to next years appropriations bill. The Senate has yet to move on its version of the budget bill.
If the House version prevails, the added 12 E/A-18Gs would be combined with previous orders to keep the Boeing assembly line running at an optimal rate of two per month until the end of 2016.
The F/A-18E/F has recently lost bids for fighter deals in India and Brazil, but Gibbons says he remains optimistic that Boeing can attract enough new orders to keep reduction going until after 2020.
There are a lot of countries flying legacy jets that are getting old old from a capability standpoint and they need to upgrade to something like this, Gibbons says, adding, or old from a fatigue life and they need to be replaced.
The hybrid concept comes on top of a broad range of upgrades that Boeing has previously proposed with the Advanced Super Hornet.
The upgrades include adding features such as conformal fuel tanks to extend the range, a podded weapons bay to reduce the aircrafts radar signature and additional sensors and weapons.
The most beautiful and timeless fighter jet ever built.
How many Billions will it cost per copy?
Opinions vary. I'm partial to the exquisite lines of the F-15.
Actually, the F/A -18 has a reputation for being a cost-effective fighter compared to other gen 4 fighters.
I’m with you, the F-15 has it all.
When we're turning aircraft out at two per month I don't think they're "cost effective" other than by comparison to other aircraft that are also being slowly dragged through the production process.
There really is such a thing as economies of scale and building a few dozen planes a year is a surefire way to guarantee that the aircraft being produced will never benefit from them.
I’d rather have the F-22.
Actually, two a month is a pretty good rate of production. They’re not chevy novas.
“There really is such a thing as economies of scale and building a few dozen planes a year is a surefire way to guarantee that the aircraft being produced will never benefit from them.”
World War 2 fighters, granted, no more complex than a car, could be built in vast numbers because they had massive resources devoted to them. Today’s fighters are not built on similar special purpose production lines because those lines cost big bucks. Although you might have a contract for 300 fighters that lasts five years the funding is approved each year. At any moment that funding might be cut and the huge investment in the production facility would crush any company that made it. The government got around this for tanks by buying the line itself and then subbing the management out to General Dynamics.
Similarly, all the avionics boxes in aircraft would need to be produced on a big production line. But for the most part everything is produced in groups numbering less than a dozen units. Therefore every component is built by hand.
This one-year-funding approach makes everything the government buys excruciatingly expensive. Proposal costs, marketing costs, training new people each time all add to the cost burden.
Further, as more production of civilian goods flees to China to escape capricious and expensive government regulations the potential labor pool of qualified employees drops ever lower.
I do know the unit cost of both the A10 and the F15 (as examples I was familiar with back in the Stone Age) would have been significantly lower had they been produced at a more rapid pace. The same was true of the initial F18s the Navy purchased, or so I'm told by a retired friend who was at the time involved in aircraft procurement.
This particular variant is specialized so it's something of an exception. I still don't see how the slower pace of production is anything other than Congress looking at people in their district being employed rather than the real cost to taxpayers.
Knowing your profession I concede the point. you would know better than I on this subject.
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