Should IAF invest $15 bn in buying the F/A-18 Super Hornet?
From Top Gun fans to IAF enthusiasts, everyone’s talking about the F/A-18 Super Hornet this week. We take a closer look…
Since the trailer for Top Gun: Maverick dropped last week, aviation enthusiasts have been buzzing about the multi-role fighter that the Indian Air Force (IAF) and Indian Navy could soon fly, courtesy of Boeing and two Indian companies.
In April 2018, Boeing announced a partnership with PSU Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Mahindra Defence Systems (MDS) to manufacture the F/A-18 Super Hornet in India under the ‘Make in India’ programme. Last month, HAL delivered its 150 th gun bay door for the F/A-18 Super Hornet.
A few interesting facts about the fighter aircraft that’s got everyone talking:
1. The F/A-18 Super Hornet is a twin-engine multirole combat jet based on the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet. It was designed primarily for use on aircraft carriers of the US Navy after the US government decided to stop purchases of the F-14 Tomcat in 1991 (the fighter jet featured in the original Top Gun movie).
2. Today, the latest evolution of the F/A-18 – the Block III – is able to perform a variety of tactical missions such as air superiority, day/night strike with precision guided weapons, fighter escort, close air support, suppression of enemy air defence, maritime strike, reconnaissance, forward air control and buddy refuelling.
3. According to the Boeing website, the F/A-18 Super Hornet will deliver on India’s need for a carrier and land-based multi-role fighter being the least expensive aircraft per flight hour of its kind with advanced survivability and continuous evolution.
4. This assessment is based on extensive testing that Boeing has done to test the Super Hornet’s compatibility with Indian carriers. Results show that the Super Hornet is capable of launching off a ski-jump carrier and could be operated from Indian carriers with a meaningful fuel and weapons load, as found on the company’s website.
5. Should the IAF and the Indian Navy decide to purchase the Super Hornets, the value of the IAF contract alone is estimated to be $15 billion.
6. Depending on the number of machines ordered by both the Navy and the IAF, Boeing will set up a completely new production facility in India for the production of its F/A-18 Super Hornets with the aim that the new facility can be used for other programs like India’s Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) program.
7. The Royal Australian Air Force currently operates 24 Super Hornets, while Kuwait has ordered 28 of the jets. The Super Hornet was also proposed for the Indian Air Force’s now-aborted deal to purchase 126 fighter aircrafts.