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Boeing has delivered the first two F/A-18 Block III SUPER HORNETs to the US Navy for flight testing – one a single-seat E model and the other a two-seat F model, the company announced on 17 June

The aircraft will be used for carrier suitability and integration testing of all Block III mission system components,” commented Steve Wade, Boeing VP, F/A-18 & E/A-18G programmes. “These test jets will ensure crews have plenty of time to become comfortable with the new, next-generation systems before receiving operational aircraft.”

The Navy will use the aircraft to familiarise pilots with the advanced cockpit system’s new 10x19in touchscreen display and test the capabilities delivered with the enhanced network capability. In addition to these enhancements, the Block III configuration adds capability upgrades that include longer range, reduced radar signature and an enhanced communication system. The fighter’s life will also be extended from 6-10,000 hours.

Last year, Boeing was awarded a contract by the Navy for 78 Block III SUPER HORNETs. Company and Navy test teams have also flown conformal fuel tank prototypes.

Delveries of operational aircraft to the Navy will commence early next year. (Photo: Boeing)

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