As already reported Switzerland kicked off the fly competition for the five types of combat aircraft under consideration (Eurofighter Typhoon, the Boeing F-18 Super Hornet, the Dassault Rafale, the Lockheed Martin F-35A and the Saab Gripen E) to replace its ageing fleet of F-5 fighter jets, and older model F/A-18 Legacy Hornet fighters at Payerne Air Base, Bern.
Under its Air2030 program in fact, the country is seeking to procure new combat aircraft and ground-based air defenses in a program valued at up to 8 billion Swiss francs ($8.08 billion).
On Apr. 30, 2019 the staff of The Aviation Geek Club had the chance to attend the demonstration of the second contender, the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, which followed that of the Eurofighter Typhoon which took place on Apr. 12. Boeing brought to Payerne two twin-seater F/A-18F Super Hornet strike fighters serials 169653/251 (construction number F283) and 169654/250 (c/n F284) from U.S. Navy Strike Fighter squadron (VFA) 106 Gladiators.
As Dan Gillian vice president of F/A-18 & EA-18G Programs pointed out during the press conference Boeing is pitching to the Swiss Air Force the F/A-18E/F Block III Super Hornet which is ideally suited for Switzerland’s operational requirements. “A country currently operating the Legacy Hornet can transition to the Super Hornet and reach Initial Operating Capability much sooner than with other platforms,” he added.
Gillian explained that Boeing has worked closely with the U.S. Navy to address the strike fighter shortfall as well as to ensure the carrier air wing has the capabilities needed to outpace the future threat for decades to come. To address these needs, Boeing has developed the Block III Super Hornet. These capabilities will be built into new aircraft and incorporated into existing aircraft during F/A-18 Service Life Modification.
Key features of a Block III Super Hornet:
· Advanced Network Infrastructure using an improved computer (DTP-N), SATCOM, network throughput (TTNT) and sensor/platform integration, allowing large amounts of data on and off the airplane. It also has the increased ability to receive targeting information from platforms like the EA-18G and the E-2D Hawkeye. Enhanced situational awareness with a new Advanced Cockpit System. A new 10 x 19 inch touchscreen display provides the pilot with the capability to see, track and target multiple long range targets generated by the common tactical picture.
· Longer range with low-drag, stealthy conformal fuel tanks. The shouldermounted tanks can carry 3,500 pounds of fuel and reduce drag, allowing the aircraft to operate longer, go faster, and/or carry more weight.
· Long-range detection with Infrared Search & Track (IRST). The long-range sensor can detect and target threats independent of radar, generating a multiship, common tactical picture at long range and allowing the Super Hornet to operate as a smart sensor node on the network.
· Improved signature with low observable next generation radar cross section for increased survivability.
· 10,000 hour life for reduced life cycle costs by incorporating design changes into production aircraft based on lessons learned from the Service Life Analysis Program.
“I’ve flown several types of fighters in my career. I’ve flown the F-16, the F-14D, the F/A-18C/D and the F/A-18E/F. If I had to go to war, my aircraft of choice would be the Super Hornet. The Rhino is combat proven and is capable to defeat any threat in the air-to-air arena. The Super Hornet is the best choice for Switzerland,” U.S. Navy Capt Kevin McLaughlin, former Topgun Commander and currently Strike Fighter Wing Atlantic Commander with over 3700 hours and 875 carrier landings who was attached to the Boeing team at Payerne, told to The Aviation Geek Club.
Switzerland had initially chosen the Saab Gripen E fighter but had to cancel that order after a 2014 referendum rejected the choice.
Noteworthy the Swiss procurement agency asked the firms to submit pricing for 30 or 40 planes, including logistics and air-to-air missiles, as well as an assessment of the number of aircraft necessary to fulfil the Swiss Air Force’s needs.
The next aircraft to be evaluated will be the Dassault Rafale, with the aircraft due to arrive by mid of May.
Photo credit: Gabriele Barison
Artwork courtesy of AircraftProfilePrints.com
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