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 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.
Delivery rate for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II averaged close to four a month in 2015. In absolute numbers, 45 were delivered compared to 36 in 2014. The figure marks the highest yearly production rate of the 5th generation fighter jet so far.
“Meeting aircraft production goals is a critical stepping stone in demonstrating the program is ready for the expected significant production ramp up,” said Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, F-35 Program Executive Officer. “It took thousands of people around the world to achieve this milestone and they should all be proud of what they accomplished.”
Lightning II numbers
The 45 F-35 deliveries include 26 F-35A for the US Air Force, eight F-35B and four F-35Cs for the US Marine Corps, another four F-35Cs to the US Navy, two F-35As for the Royal Norwegian Air Force and finally, the Italian F-35A already mentioned.
Most aircraft were sent to Luke Air Force base in Arizona, while others went to Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, Eglin Air Force Base, Hill Air Force Base and Nellis Air Force Base.
A United States Marine Corps (USMC) F-18 Hornet crashed in the United Kingdom near Lakenheath air force base on Wednesday 21 October, authorities confirmed. The pilot was killed in the crash. Along with a number of other Hornets, the aircraft had just departed Lakenheath at the start of a trans atlantic flight back to the US.
The aircraft came down at 10.30 hrs local time on uninhabited farmland six miles northwest of Lakenheath. The cause is under investigation. According to US officials, it is unknown if the pilot ejected.
The Hornet belonged to Marine Attack Fighter Squadron (VMFA) 232 ‘Red devils’ and was heading home to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, CA. The aircraft had arrived at Lakenheath from Bahrain the day before. Following the crash, five more Hornets diverted to RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland.
Lakenheath is used as a transit airfield by US forces every once in a while. The base is home to US Air Force F-15s.