Discussions are underway with the Indian Navy for F/A-18 Super Hornet Ski-Jump Trials.
Boeing’s Vice President Thom Breckenridge has revealed at DefExpo 2020 that the company is planning ski-jump testing for its F/A-18 Super Hornet strike fighter.
He said that discussions are underway with the Indian Navy regarding the trials.
“Testing plans are underway. We will rigorously check our aircraft on ski jump,” said Breckenridge, Vice-President, International Sales at Boeing Defence, Space and Security, at the DefExpo 2020, held in Lucknow.
Confirmation that the Super Hornet could operate with a significant payload without any modifications from short-takeoff but arrested recovery (STOBAR) carriers came Dan Gillian, Boeing’s program manager for the F/A-18 and EA-18G, following a meeting in New Delhi put on by Boeing in 2017.
STOBAR (used by India’s next aircraft carrier INS Vikrant in this case) is a system used for the launch and recovery of aircraft from the deck of an aircraft carrier, combining short take-off without catapults and arrested recovery using cables on deck for the aircraft to catch.
During the interview, Gillian stated:
“We have answered queries from the Indian Navy and the simulation analysis is done. At some point we will also take off from a US Navy ski jump. We feel very comfortable that we will pass the requirements with a meaningful and significant payload.”
Boeing is vying for a Indian Navy contract for 57 new fighter jets to operate from its next aircraft carrier INS Vikrant. Besides the Super Hornet, competitors for this contract are the Dassault Rafale, MiG-29K (already in service with the Indian Navy) and the Saab 39 Gripen.
Boeing offered to set up an F/A-18 Super Hornet production facility in India. “We are talking about creating a next generation facility in India. We think the Super Hornet is the most advanced airplane that India could manufacture,” Gillian explained.
Photo credit: US Navy/Mass Comm. Specialist 2nd Class Thomas Gooley