The US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) is looking to contract Boeing to modify a number of F-18 Super Hornets for use with the Naval Flight Demonstration Squadron (NFDS) Blue Angels, as announced on Monday 25 July. The Blue Angels have been flying the F-18 Hornet for decades, but these ‘legacy’ Hornets are getting harder to come by for the team.
Modificitations to the Super Hornet should include the installation of a smoke system that releases oil into the jet’s engine exhaust. The ensuing smoke gives more depth to the team’s performance in the air. According to NAVAIR, Boeing and is ‘the only source with the knowledge, expertise and on-site personnel necessary’ to accomplish the needed modifications.
The Blue Angels started using F/A-18A and B jets in 1986, replacing those with C and D models in 2010. However, F/A-18E and F Super Hornets are now the dominant models in the US inventory.
The US Navy’s newest playground for its Hornets, Super Hornets and – in the future – Lightning II multi-role fighters is nearing its entry into service. The US Navy press office has confirmed that the USS Gerald R. Ford – an aircraft carrier of a new kind – will be delivered in September.
First CVN 78 will undergo ship sea trials between July and August.
F/A-18E Super Hornet on AAG
The almost 13 billion dollar vessel has been plagued with delays. One of them being the new catapult system, which no longer uses steam but electromagnetics to launch aircraft into the air.
Also, the new turbo-electric landing system has been cause for concern, but manufacturer General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems just reported the first aircraft arrest with the Advanced Arresting Gear on 31 March, done with a US Navy Boeing (McDonnell Douglas) F/A-18E Super Hornet on the tarmac of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in Lakehurst, New Jersey.
Legendary USS Nimitz
With an official 97 percent of the US Navy’s next-generation supercarrier complete, Newport News Shipbuilding is confident with that the Ford can replace the USS Enterprise (CVN 65) later this year.
At the same time the builder says it is cutting down costs for the second ship in the class, the USS John F. Kennedy, that will trade places with the legendary USS Nimitz (CVN 68) in 2021.
The development of the US Navy CMV-22B Osprey carrier onboard delivery plane has started. The joint Bell/Boeing project received its first 151 million dollars for redesigning the aircraft.
Forty-four CMV-22B vertical landing aircraft are set to start streaming into USN service between 2020 and 2024, replacing the traditional fixed-wing Grumman C-2 Greyhound. MV-22s are already very much in use with the US Marines, where they fly everything from cargo to soldiers between navy ships to land-based locations or into the battlefield.
Special Navy Osprey
Bell/Boeing deliver the aircraft at 86.8 million a piece. The extra 151 million dollars that have been allocated now will be used for incorporating an external fuel tank, adapted SATCOMs, a modified shipboard landing system and other stuff not incorporated on the Marine Ospreys.
Arming of the CMV-22Bs is not planned, but could be done in a later stage.
The US Navy has become the first American armed force to order a very special Gulfstream air asset: the G550 Green heavily modified for Airborne Early Warning & Control duty.
With a price tag of almost 92 million dollar the people at the Gulfstream plant in Savannah, Georgia (USA), must be very excited that finally their own country recognized the quality of their platform, made in cooperation with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).
Conformal Airborne Early Warning
Planned for starting operations in January 2019, the US Navy G-550 Green AEW&C will join a small international fleet, although it has not been disclosed yet if the machines will be similar in looks as the pair of G550 CAEW (Conformal Airborne Early Warning) the Israeli Air Force is flying. Other users are the Italian Air Force (2 G550 CAEW) and the Republic of Singapore Air Force (4 G550 CAEW).
Gulfstream to US armed forces
The Gulfstream as such is not new to the US armed forces, but until now was mainly enrolled in VIP transport duties as C-37B and the current numbers are small: one with the US Air Force, three with the US Navy and one with the US Army.
The US Navy finally retired the Lockheed S-3 Viking earlier this week, performing a final flight from Naval Base Ventura County in Point Mugu, California. It’s operational career ended in 2009 already, but three were retained for service with Air Test and Evaluation Squadron VX-30.
The S-3 Viking first flew on 21 January 1972 and started its operational career two years later, serving as an anti-submarine platform. It’s size, shape and hoover-like engine sound made it very recognizable aboard US aircraft carriers.
Later in it career it also flew as an electronic warfare platform and as an carrier onboard delivery (COD) aircraft. Most of the 188 Vikings built ended up in storage at the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) in Tucson, Arizona.
At least one aircraft escapes that fate, though. It will fly for NASA for some time to come.