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Boeing F/A-18 Advanced Super Hornet

Carrier-Based Strike Fighter Aircraft Prototype [ 2015 ]

Boeing is offering its Advanced Super Hornet as an interim solution pending the full-operational status arrival of the Lockheed F-35 Lightning II system.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 01/10/2020 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

Seeking to fill the void now presented by the expected delay of the F-35 Lightning II strike fighting into United States naval service, Boeing has taken to a private venture to produce a "stealthified" version of its excellent carrier-based F/A-18E/F "Super Hornet" series under the project designation of "Advanced Super Hornet". The type will feature modular components retrofitted to the existing Super Hornet airframe in an attempt to lower its radar signature and overall profile while being a budget conscious solution to current USN needs. Key to the changes will be implementation of an enclosed weapons pod under the fuselage, use of Conformal Fuel Tanks (CFTs) and an all new "skin" coating along surfaces. On the whole, the airframe will remain largely the same and compatible with all current hardware and software systems in use. As such, it is expected that the Advanced Super Hornet will received some serious attention from the United States Navy and Super Hornet operators from around the world.

Considering that the USMC is expected to achieve operational levels with their F-35s not until 2015 with the USAF following in 2016, the USN - and its more complex requirements and arrangements - is pushing for full operational capability as far into the future as 2018 - leaving a noticeable gap between now and then. As it stands, the F/A-18 series is an experienced and proven flight system and simply modifying the type for modern service would seem a tempting choice for the USN while awaiting their more technology-laden airplane.

Boeing expects the revised Super Hornet to begin flight testing in the middle (or late) of 2013. The United States Navy is actively backing the Boeing initiative through its operations department (OPNAV) and has leased a USN Super Hornet production model to Boeing for the work. Initial flight evaluations with the conversion kits in place will take place at Boeing's St. Louis facility in Missouri and then, later, at the USN's Patuxent River NAS in Maryland. The test program is designed as a data-gathering effort to evaluate the feasibility of a "stealth" Super Hornet which would also extend the service life of this stalwart aircraft considerably (it is already expected to serve up until 2040). The base Super Hornet does field some inherent stealth capabilities though its external weapons loadout compromise further efforts - hence the development of a weapons pod to contain munitions until fired. The weapons pod will lay under the center fuselage and house up to four missiles (or similar stores). The conformal fuel tanks will not only retard the airframe's low already signature but also increase the base Super Hornet's combat radius from the standard 390 nautical miles to approximately 510 nautical miles. The cockpits will be slightly reworked to include increased-area touchscreen displays and projected engines will be uprated General Electric F414 turbofans.

The edits to the Super Hornet through the Advanced Super Hornet initiative may also be in contention for modifying the existing fleet of EA-18G Growler carrier-based Electronic Warfare Aircraft (EWA).

Currently, only two nations operate Super Hornets - the United States and Australia. The aircraft is under consideration with Canada, Bulgaria, Greece, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates.©MilitaryFactory.com
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Boeing Company - USA
United States (possible)
Operators National flag of the United States
Service Year
United States
National Origin
Project Status
1 or 2

General ability to actively engage other aircraft of similar form and function, typically through guns, missiles, and/or aerial rockets.
Ability to intercept inbound aerial threats by way of high-performance, typically speed and rate-of-climb.
Ability to conduct aerial bombing of ground targets by way of (but not limited to) guns, bombs, missiles, rockets, and the like.
Land-based or shipborne capability for operating over-water in various maritime-related roles while supported by allied naval surface elements.
Aircraft developed for the role of prototyping, technology demonstration, or research / data collection.

60.1 ft
(18.31 meters)
44.7 ft
(13.62 meters)
16.0 ft
(4.88 meters)
32,077 lb
(14,550 kilograms)
Empty Weight
66,139 lb
(30,000 kilograms)
Maximum Take-Off Weight
+34,061 lb
(+15,450 kg)
Weight Difference

2 x General Electric F414 turbofan engines developing up to 17,000lb of thrust each.
1,193 mph
(1,920 kph | 1,037 knots)
Max Speed
49,213 ft
(15,000 m | 9 miles)
587 miles
(945 km | 510 nm)
45,000 ft/min
(13,716 m/min)

MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030

1 x 20mm M61 Vulcan Gatling gun

Underfuselage centerline weapons pod housing 2 x AIM-120 AMRAAM medium range air-to-air missiles and 2 x AGM-154 Joint Standoff glide bombs, drop bombs, guided bombs or similar arrangement. Pod can be removed and all original eleven hardpoints can be used for up to 17,750lb of external ordnance.


F/A-18 "Super Hornet" - Base Series Designation; two-seat strike platform; based on the single-seat F/A-18 Hornet carrier-based strike fighter.
F/A-18E "Super Hornet" - Single-seat variant
F/A-18F "Super Hornet" - Twin-Seat Variant
F/A-18E/F "Advanced Super Hornet" - Project Designation for modified stealthy F/A-18E/F model; centerline weapons pod; conformal fuel tanks; revised cockpit intrumentation; conformal infrared Search-and-Track sensor equipment; retains all of the existing F/A-18E/F combat capabilities.

General Assessment
Values are derrived from a variety of categories related to the design, overall function, and historical influence of this aircraft in aviation history.
Overall Rating
The overall rating takes into account over 60 individual factors related to this aircraft entry.
Rating is out of a possible 100 points.
Relative Maximum Speed
Hi: 1200mph
Lo: 600mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (1,193mph).

Graph average of 900 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
Max Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected above are altitude, speed, and range.
Aviation Era Span
Pie graph section
Showcasing era cross-over of this aircraft design.
Unit Production (1)
Compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian).

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Image of the Boeing F/A-18 Advanced Super Hornet
Image from official Boeing Company marketing material.
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Image of the Boeing F/A-18 Advanced Super Hornet
Image from official Boeing Company marketing material.
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Image of the Boeing F/A-18 Advanced Super Hornet
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