June 2005 
Volume 04, Issue 2 
Integrated Defense Systems

Building on strength

Building on strength

F/A-18E/F Block II upgrades add to Super Hornet's potent arsenal


Upgrades in the new Block II F/A-18E/F Super Hornets mean aircrews will enjoy significantly improved reliability, highersituational awareness, and greatly increased target detection and tracking range.

Boeing unveiled the first F/A-18E/F Block II Super Hornet on April 21 in a ceremony in St. Louis.

Among the Block II systems and features are the APG-79 Active Electronically Scanned Array radar system (AESA), Advanced Crew Station, and advanced mission computers and displays. These features complement and expand the F/A-18E/F's lethality and survivability.

The Block II configuration also provides enhanced interconnectivity among the aircraft's mission systems and the ability to upgrade with future technology as it matures.

"The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, with its Block II capability, will transform the way the Navy projects power," said Capt. Donald "BD" Gaddis, F/A-18 program manager for the U.S. Navy. "It possesses the tools that allow the Navy to operate, fight and win on a joint, networked battlefield."

Unlike mechanically scanned radars, the AESA radar system, built by Raytheon, provides the warfighter vision under, above and to the sides of the aircraft, all at once. Featuring a fixed array with an agile beam that scans using electronic impulses from hundreds of emitters and receivers, AESA allows simultaneous air-to-air and air-to-ground target detection and tracking. This provides more precise, longer-range assessment of threats and information.

In air-to-air mode, the radar allows targets to be engaged at very long ranges, permitting weapons launch at maximum range and enhancing crew survivability and lethality. The system also offers high-resolution ground mapping at long standoff ranges for air-to-surface tracking.

With AESA a key element of the configuration, the Block II Super Hornet offers superior crew coordination capabilities over previous configurations, including expanding the autonomy of the weapon systems officer in the two-seat F model. The Advanced Crew Station features improved hand controllers that provide faster responsiveness for critical weapons system operations. It also includes larger, more detailed displays for greater situational awareness.

With delivery of the Block II configuration, the Super Hornet enhances its capabilities for network-centric operations, a system of systems that shares information among a variety of warfighter nodes. To support network-centric operations, the Block II Super Hornet features a high-speed data network.

F/A-18E/F by the numbers

The number of one-seat F/A-18Es Boeing has delivered.

The number of two-seat F/A-18Fs Boeing has delivered.

Total number of Active Electronically Scanned Array radar units the U.S. Navy plans to buy. Of these units, made by Raytheon, 280 will go into new-build aircraft, while 135 will be used to retrofit existing Super Hornets.

The Super Hornet's advanced systems, working together, provide an integrated picture of the battlespace with a larger variety of detail than previously possible. The Digital Communications Set sends key data from aircraft to aircraft or from aircraft to ground forces, improving message accuracy and speed and enhancing information support of the total force.

What's more, this capability comes at an affordable price. "The Super Hornet program is recognized as a model among Department of Defense programs for its ability to drive down costs and realize efficiencies while continuously providing unparalleled quality," said Chris Chadwick, vice president, F/A-18 Programs for Boeing.

Chadwick said more upgrades are planned for the Super Hornet: "We have a proactive program to predict and define requirements to meet emerging needs. We continue to work with the Navy and our suppliers to guarantee that this true multirole strike fighter remains a valuable asset in our customer's arsenal for years to come."



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