During the bi-annual Pre-Paris Air Show Media Tour in St. Louis, Boeing executives informed MONCh that their F/A-18E/F Super HORNET Block III multirole fighter jets will be be more stealthy, pack a more powerful punch, fly with increased stamina and carry a more robust communication and targeting system, as the US Navy awarded the company a U$4 billion contract for the production of 78 Block IIIs (61 single seat E’models and 17 two seat F models) to start being delivered by 2022.
"This year, Block III transitions into production and the last two Kuwaiti jets will be test jets delivered to the US Navy at end of this year," Boeing executives said in St. Louis.
F/A-18E/F Super HORNET Block III complements capabilities of E/A-18G & E-2D to optimise carrier air wings with an increased range (via conformal fuel tanks, over the wings in low drag configuration, opening up new weapon stations) and enhanced situational awareness via new advanced glass cockpit systems, flying today with the first Kuwaiti aircraft. Further features include advanced network connectivity via satellite communication (SATCOM), a 9,000 hour airframce and significant reduced signature (lower radar cross section) with coating on few additional hotspots. A common tactical picture is also added, i.e. long wave/range Infrared Search And Track Systems (IRST) (Program of Record independent of Block IIII), Distributed Targeting Processor Network (DTP-N) open architecture, multi-level secure processor and Collins Aerospace's Tactical Targeting Network Technology (TTNT) datalink
Two jets are to be delivered this year and, according to Boeing, "all Block IIs will become Block IIIs via an upgrade programme, delivered through 2033; 550 Block IIIs alltogether."
As the Block III Super HORNET (and incidentally the E/A-18 GROWLER) will be offered to Germany to replace its fleet of aging TORNADOs, Boeing states during the Media tour that, "by 2025 we will have nuclear capability." The German Ministry of Defense is looking at the nonstealthy Eurofighter TYPHOON and F/A-18 Super HORNET and to replace Germany's 90 TORNADO aircraft set to retire in 2035, but the jets will have to carry nuclear weapons. The TYPHOON is not nuclear capable yet ,but a purchase of 45 Super HORNETs could complement 143 TYPHOONs.