The U.S. Navy has received its first new-production Block III F/A-18 Super Hornet for testing, Naval Air Systems Command announced this week.
The upgraded Navy fighter aircraft is the first of 78 Boeing-built Block III Super Hornets set to be delivered through the mid-2030s.
Among the features included in the jet is an advanced cockpit system with:
- A large touchscreen display
- Advanced networking capabilities
- Radar signature enhancements
- A 10,000-hour service life airframe
“The fleet needs capabilities to keep its edge,” said Capt. Jason “Stuf” Denney, U.S. Navy F/A-18 and EA-18G program manager. “Getting the first operational Block III in our hands is a great step forward in supporting our capability and readiness goals.”
The delivery of the aircraft was made in late August to the Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland. The next round of Block III deliveries will be sent to VX-9 at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in California for testing during scenarios that mimic operational missions, NAVAIR said.
“We are excited to see new production deliveries rolling off the line in St. Louis and are eagerly watching as the jets continue through developmental and operational test programs,” Denny said.
The aircraft has already completed Carrier Suitability Testing, including “shake, rattle and roll testing” that mimics the aircraft carrier environment to ensure the system upgrades can hold up to the focus of a catapult-assisted launch and ship-based arrested landing.
“Scrutinizing these new systems in a test environment ahead of fielding to our warfighter is very important and allows the Navy to make sure the delivered system meets the requirements provided to the manufacturing contractor and that our fleet is receiving an effective, interoperable and sustainable aircraft that will support the mission,” said Bob David, the F/A-18 & EA-18G Program Office’s (PMA-265) Assistant Program Manager for Test and Evaluation.