Boeing has delivered the first two F/A-18E/F Block III Super Hornets carrier-capable multi-role fighters to the US Navy for flight testing.
Of the two aircraft, one example is a single-seat F/A-18E and the other is a two-seat F/A-18F model. The US Navy will now use the fighters to familiarise pilots with the platform’s advanced cockpit systems, including the new 10in x 19in touchscreen display. The service will also test the Block III Super Hornet’s additional enhanced network capability.
Steve Wade, vice president of F/A-18 and EA-18G programmes at Boeing, said: “The aircraft will be used for carrier suitability and integration testing of all Block III mission system components… These test jets will ensure crews have plenty of time to become comfortable with the new, next-generation systems before receiving operational aircraft.”
The Block III Super Hornet also features new capability upgrades and an enhanced communication system, along with increased range and a reduced radar signature. It also extends the multi-role fighter’s viable operational life from 6,000 flight hours to 10,000.
In 2019, Boeing was contracted by the US Navy to provide 78 Block III Super Hornets. Prototype F/A-18E/Fs outfitted with conformal fuel tanks have also been flown by the Boeing and US Navy test teams.