The Senate Appropriations Committee (SAC) made its own version of the US Department of Defense FY2015 plan, willing to pump 548 billion dollars extra into the military spending. In the plan presented on 17 July 2014 not only the A-10s – nicknamed Warthog – will stay airborne, but it foresees also in more EA-18G Growlers the US Navy is advocating hard for. As we at Airheadsfly.com reported earlier the USN hopes to get an additional 22 of these electronic attack aircraft. Manufacturer Boeing has put in a helping hand, declaring at the 2014 Farnborough International Airshow this week it is very much willing to keep the Super Hornet production line open. The EA-18G is a F/A-18E/F Super Hornet derivative.
With the SAC plan it is now up to the full US Senate to decide over the alternative plan for the air assets of the US armed forces. So far no date has been set yet on when the issue is going to be addressed at Capitol Hill.
The United States Navy is seeking possibilities to acquire 22 additional Boeing (McDonnell Douglas) EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft and thus keeping the Super Hornet production line open for additional years.
By adding additional electronic warfare aircraft to the existing squadron the Navy tucks itself in for possible attrition losses or future demands. With the current Super Hornet / Growler production line under threat of closing down, it might be a way to either keep the line open and/or to build up margins – in other words: to prevent a lack of assets in the future.
The first operational EA-18G Growler, a derivative of the F/A-18E/F SuperHornet, was delivered to the the US Navy’s Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 129 at NAS Whidbey Island in Washington state on 4 June 2008. At that time five EA-18Gs were already flying as test aircraft within the Navy. The Growlers are the successor of the EA-6B Prowler, which has been in service since 1971. The EA-18G combat debut was in 2011, enforcing a UN mandated no-fly zone over Libya dubbed Operation Odyssey Dawn.
The Gripen has an advantage if Brazil wants brand-new aircraft. Boeing is set to decide to close the Super Hornet’s production line in 2014 if no new orders show up on the horizon. Brazil’s fighter decision is not expected before 2015.
If the Rafale is truly exit the charm offensive of then French president Nicolas Sarkozy has been to no avail. From the beginning the Dassault plane seemed too expensive for the Latin America country, but its government re-opened the full bidding process partly thanks to pressure from Paris. Sarkozy left office in 2012.
Favour the Gripen NG
Brazil wants to buy 36 fighter aircraft to start replacing its Mirage 2000s and Northrop F-5s. The Mirage 2000s are even expected to stop flying with the Força Aérea Brasileira (FAB) this December. The Brazilian Air Force brass is said to favour the Gripen NG as well, probably because it is easier and cheaper to maintain.
According to reports leaked out by Swiss Air Force personnel the Rafale has the upper hand in several combat scenarios and in technology compared to an early demo Gripen NG. But with the fully developed Gripen-E on its way the Swiss are also poised to get 22 of these more affordable Swedish fighter jets.
When two dogs fight for a bone, there might be the unexpected third dog to run away with it. Sukhoi has offered the Brazilians its next generation stealth fighter, the delayed T-50, including sharing its technology with the Brazilian industry. The FAB is not strange to Russian technology, as it already flies Russian made Mi-35M Hind attack helicopters. If the Sukhoi T-50 is really going to be the jack-in-the-box, we’ll have to see.
The US Navy aircraft carrier CVN 73 USS George Washington currently patrols the waters west of the Korean peninsula. George Washington and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, provide a combat-ready force that the US is currently using to support its operations and deterrence in Southeast Asia.
The CVW-5 aircraft are attached to the “Diamondbacks” of Strike Fight Squadron (VFA) 102 flying the F/A-18F Super Hornet; the “Royal Maces” of VFA-27, the “Eagles” of VFA-115 and the “Dambusters” VFA-195 each flying the F/A-18E Super Hornet; the “Shadowhawks” of Electronic Attack Squadron 141 flying the EA-18G Growler; VAW-115 flying the E-2C Hawkeye; the “Providers” of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 30, Detachment 5, flying the C-2A Greyhound; the “Golden Falcons” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 12 flying the MH-60S Seahawk; and the “Saberhawks” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 77 flying the MH-60R Seahawk.
Carrier Air Wing 5 is the US Navy’s “911” air wing, meaning when there is a crisis somewhere it is likely to be send in as first response. CVW-5 is comprised of nine squadrons with approximately 1,900 sailors and 67 aircraft.
The next model of the F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter/strike aircraft ends its second month of existence with the Boeing and Northrop Grumman companies in St. Louis. The so-called Advanced Super Hornet is probably the last attempt to sell a concept originally developed in the late 1970s by McDonnell Douglas.
In August test pilots took the Advanced Super Hornet, which is in fact a F/A-18E with loads of extra gimmicks, through 21 flight tests from St. Louis and NAS Patuxent River to see if the upgraded aircraft would do well.
The Advanced Super Hornet has conformal fuel tanks (CFT), which gives the aircraft an additional combat radius of 130 nautical miles (240 km) to be able to strike within a radius of 700 nautical miles (1296 km), meaning loaded with weapons it can hurt the enemy a bit further than before. An enclosed weapons pod (EWP) gives the aircraft a lower radar profile if the other external hardpoints are not used. Boeing and Grumman, together with GE Aviation and Raytheon, still work on Infrared Search and Track, a better engine and a totally new cockpit.
Boeing hopes to interest potential customers to directly order the Advanced Super Hornet upgrade, or buy the additional Christmas package for one’s existing F/A-18E/F Block II Super Hornet. According to its manufacturer the new stuff will get the old Super Hornet into the advanced 2030s air war.