The integration of the CFT is one of the several improvements that will feature the Block III Super Hornet which Boeing is currently developing
The Pentagon announced on Feb. 14, 2018 that Boeing has been awarded $219 million “for the design, development, test and integration of the conformal fuel tank (CFT) in support of the F/A-18.”
Majority of the work is to be carried out at El Segundo, California and St. Louis, Missouri. The job will be completed by 2022.
The integration of the CFT is one of the several improvements that will feature the Block III Super Hornet which Boeing is currently developing.
Along with the CFT in fact the aircraft will have a new engine (that will be the so called General Electric’s enhanced performance engine or EPE, that would increase the F414-GE-400’s power output from 22,000 lbs to 26,400 lbs) and the infrared search and track (IRST) 21 sensor system.
Noteworthy Block III Super Hornet is aimed to keep the aircraft relevant into the 2040s.
However unlike Boeing’s previous Advanced Super Hornet concept that was revealed in 2013, the new Block III aircraft is a more modest proposition that is designed to support the rest of the air wing including the Lockheed Martin F-35C Joint Strike Fighter, Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye and the EA-18G Growler under the service Naval Integrated Fire Control Counter Air construct (NIFC-CA).
Nevertheless the Block III takes the existing upgrade path for the Super Hornet—including biennial hardware and software upgrades—and expands upon those. Indeed, some of the existing planned upgrades to the jet’s powerful Raytheon AN/APG-79 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, AN/ALQ-214 Integrated Defensive Electronic Countermeasures (IDECM) Block IV suite and the Lockheed Martin AN/ASG-34 Infrared Search and Track pod—the IRST21 sensor—are part of the Block III package.
Photo credit: Boeing
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